SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Robert Fulghum's famous poem says that everything you need to learn in life actually gets mastered in kindergarten. While that may sound strange, there's is a grain of truth in there. After all, kindergarten is where youngsters learn to share, be fair, clean up, wash hands before eating and of course remember to flush the toilet.
Spotswood's Schoenly School sent five classes of kindergarteners up the educational ladder to first grade on Wednesday, June 7. There were so many youngsters that in order to coordinate the festivities, the moving-up ceremony needed to be separated into two segments. Stacey Vespoli and Barbara Silvers had the first ceremony while Brooke Weidlich, Debra Generelli and Mrs. Lawrence graduated second. Lawrence took over Janice Cooper's class in the fall when the longtime teacher took a leave of absence.
When Schoenly School Principal Nancy Torchiano stood at the podium, she reminded parents that kindergarten is a German word that means children's garden.
"Today, we are going to celebrate our garden that has bloomed and is ready to move on to first grade," Torchiano said in her opening remarks.
When Vespoli took the podium next, the longtime early childhood educator first thanked the parents and support staff before addressing the rest of her remarks to her 21 students. At times, the kindergarten teacher fought back tears.
"I have the best job in the world, Vespoli said. "Because I get to spend all these days with you, but it's also the saddest job because after 180 days, I need to send you off. My advice to you is simple; work hard, be happy and know that you can do anything."
And yes they can, while the learning is of course, not finished. The foundation for the rest of their education really is learned in kindergarten.
As each kindergartener shook hands with Interim Superintendent Dr. Anthony Vaz, Spotswood Board of Education member Dolce Branco-Rivera and their principal, they seemed much more mature then that nervous first day of school way back in September. As parents scrambled for photos, each child proudly stood by Torchiano for the milestone picture that would soon find its way on Facebook or Instagram.
As those June days of school fly by, Fulghum's final stanza of his famous poem"All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" hangs in the air:
"Live a balanced life -
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder."