‘Class of 2025’ is last one for old Head Start center
By RICHARD WALKER
North Kitsap Herald Editor
May 31, 2012 · Updated 3:02 PM
LITTLE BOSTON — Elijah Purser was a star of the evening, a graduate, a future keeper of the culture. But after the ceremony, as he and his family got in line for dinner, he was all boy.
Asked what he liked most about Head Start, he said, “I like to play.” Asked what he wanted to do most in kindergarten next year, he said, “I want to play.”
Elijah, 5, was one of 17 students who graduated from Port Gamble S’Klallam Head Start Wednesday, in the S’Klallam Gym in Little Boston. It was a significant night on many levels.
First, this is the last graduating class from the old Head Start building, which will be torn down and replaced by a new, larger early education center. Lead teacher Kyle Carpenter said he and his co-workers expected to start moving their belongings out of the old building beginning Thursday. Construction is expected to start on the new building in two weeks and the new center will open in March. In September, Head Start will be housed temporarily in the old senior center, Carpenter said.
The current Head Start building is believed to be the oldest building on the reservation. In its life, it served a variety of uses, among them as community hall and as tribal center.
Besides Head Start, the early childhood education center offers day care, early learning classes, family literacy activities, and parenting classes.
Second, these students will go to kindergarten in September better equipped to succeed. For one or two years at Head Start, they received help with emotional and social development, participated in natural science projects, and met with their kindergarten teachers to ease the transition from Head Start to elementary school.
They also studied their culture. They learned numbers, words, phrases and songs in the S’Klallam language. Wednesday, the students opened the graduation ceremony with a S’Klallam welcome song, followed by the killer whale, or kloomachin, song.
The kloomachin song is Kamaili Price-Sullivan’s favorite song. Kamaili, 5, said she learned a lot at Head Start — the alphabet, numbers and songs. She also enjoyed play time at Head Start, and is interested in learning what recess is all about in kindergarten.
“I’m very proud of them, that they are learning the S’Klallam language,” said Millie DeCoteau, who was born here in 1925. “My mom was Skokomish and my dad was S’Klallam. They didn’t speak the same (Native) language so they didn’t speak it at home. I’m very happy these children are learning S’Klallam.”
The gym was decorated with photo collages of each child. Parents took pictures and videos during the songs and graduation ceremony, as their child stepped forward when his or her name was called to receive a certificate, two books and a T-shirt to commemorate the day. Several volunteers were recognized for their work with the children.
“It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child,” said John Price before he offered a dinner prayer. “That’s evidenced here by all of you who came here tonight. The children can see that all the community is proud of them.”
Carpenter offered high praise as well as an expectation for the youngsters, introducing them as “the high school graduating class of 2025.”
Contact North Kitsap Herald Editor Richard Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-360-779-4464.