It’s often hard for parents to watch their babies grow up.

And the same can be said for teachers, according to Amanda Easton.

On May 18, Easton, teacher for Seymour Community Schools G.R.A.D.S. Pre-School, handed out “diplomas” to the 32 youngsters in the first class to graduate from the program at Seymour-Redding Elementary School.

Each diploma certified the student had successfully completed all the requirements of preschool and was officially ready for kindergarten at Cortland, Margaret R. Brown, Redding or Seymour-Jackson elementary schools in the fall.

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“I’m so proud of them, but I’m not ready to let them go either,” Easton said. “I wish I could keep them here with me, but I know they are ready. I love this group. They all have such unique personalities, and I will definitely miss their smiling faces next year.”

G.R.A.D.S. Pre-School, which stands for “Get ready and develop skills,” was developed by the school district to provide free, public early-childhood education services to students from low-income families and those with special needs. There is also a 3-year-old class.

During the recent, short commencement ceremony, students made their way to the cafeteria stage to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.” They then performed several songs and dances in front of the large crowd of proud families.

In their first year of school, the 4-year-olds have demonstrated progress and met both academic and social goals that will help them be successful in the future, Easton said.

The class met three times a week, with half the students going in the morning and half in the afternoon.

“They have all found a love for school, and I hope that continues throughout their education,” Easton said.

Graduate Walker Sutherland said the best part of being in preschool this year was meeting new friends and getting to see them in class during the week.

“I met my best friend Zaidd (Morales Vidales) at school,” he said.

Walker said he will miss his teacher and going to recess with his friends.

“But I’m ready for kindergarten because now I am big,” he added. “It’s OK to leave me all day at school now.”

That’s because, while in preschool, he learned how to write his letters and numbers.

“It was fun,” he added.

Walker’s mother, Tara Sutherland, said she is proud her son has graduated from the program and said it’s important for students to have the opportunity.

“These kids have been taught how to be a student, yes. They have learned their numbers and letters, but more importantly they have been taught how to interact in a group setting,” she said. “These children will enter kindergarten with good social and behavioral management skills, ultimately making an easier transition to kindergarten.”

The progress her son has made since the beginning of the year is “immeasurable,” she added.

“We have noticed a drastic change in the early social development as well as a boost in confidence, and we feel that Walker is emotionally more mature having gone through preschool,” she said. “He is eager to begin kindergarten, is socially and academically ready, and the routine has already been established. Kindergarten will not be difficult for him to adapt to, and for that I feel fortunate to have such an excellent program offered.”

The G.R.A.D.S. preschool will be offered again in the fall.

“Every child deserves an opportunity to have a valuable early childhood education,” Easton said. “Seymour Community Schools has created a great foundation for that, and I am so thankful to be a part of their journey.”

At a glance

First graduating class of Seymour G.R.A.D.S. Pre-School:

Hunter Banks, Cristina Calderon Puente, Jesus Dorantes Bahena, Abigail Gillis, Chris Lopez Lopez, Miriam Malone, Lilly McKinney, Zaidd Morales Vidales, Alondra Perez Perez, Quetzali Romera Lopez, Luis Rosales Bahena, Jackson Smith, Walker Sutherland, Julie Thompson, Jaida Viveros, Itzel Zarate Lara, Bradley Brown, Jessica Burns, Brayson Campbell, Dafne Dominguez Ramirez, Jamie Farmer, Yesica Garcia, Ivan Guzman, Johnny Harmon, Garrett Kindred, Aidan Langford, Kaileiana Mitchell, Daniel Santiago, Kiara Scott, Camden Sitterding, Alex Sons and Evan Stewart.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at or 812-523-7069.