By Anh Le
It was a wonderfully sunny day as 17 children graduated recently from the Marin Learning Center Preschool in Marin City.
The 45th Annual Commencement Ceremony was held on April 15 at the Manzanita Recreation Center in Marin City.
This reporter had the honor of attending both this year’s and last year’s graduation programs, and also visiting this preschool several times throughout this school year.
Co-directors and head teachers of this preschool are Mahealani Bernes and Essie Hardy. The children at center represent a diversity of cultures and ethnic and racial backgrounds: African American, Latino and Hispanic, Central American, Vietnamese, Chinese, Caucasian.
At the graduation program, the children sang: “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” “La Arana Pequenita” (“Itsy Bitsy Spider”), “Pearly Shells” (in both Hawaiian and English), and “What A Wonderful World.”
Before presenting children with a graduation diploma, Hardy and Bernes shared with everyone a beautiful story about each child and what special gifts and talents each child brought to the school this year.
Bernes then asked everyone to help launch the children on their “educational journey” – to the enthusiastic applause from the children’s parents, family members, relatives, and community members.
This reporter visited Bernes’ class during the Christmas holiday season and read two books to the children. The children were delighted, listened very attentively, and expressed their joy with their own comments and questions.
Bernes and Hardy, along with their colleagues, teach the preschoolers strong academic skills, the arts, and social skills such as how to get along and honoring each other’s culture and ethnicity.
These dedicated educators deeply nurture each child’s emotional and psychological growth and instill in each child self confidence, self esteem, and pride.
The Pre-Kindergarten graduates are:
Justin Chavez, Alis Dias, Izaiah Dickerson, Kwabeno Graham Jr., Jayden Harris, Katerin Hernandez, Joshua Mazariegos, Arianna Mejia, Kiara Meza,
Beyonce Nieva, Belinda Paredes, Yahayra Rodrigues, Taj Snyder, Nhat Anh Tran, Nacaea Wess, Melissa Yah and Briana Zuniga.
“(This) graduation event earmarks the beginning of many great episodes in the lives of these children. My hope is that the joy and excitement which filled the room today inspires and ignites their passion for learning,” said Rev. Dr. Jonathan Logan, pastor of the Corner Community Church in Marin City.
“We teach the children that when they leave here, they know the essence of who they are, they feel powerful, and they will continue to be successful,” said Bernes.
“We teach the children that love is valued, and that they will always be protected no matter what situation. We nurture and love each child deeply, and all the children leave here with confidence on their journey,” she said.
Added Hardy: “We love what we do here. We teach the children. We love the children. We are given the gift of teaching and loving every child that comes to our preschool.”
The musicians accompanying the children at the Graduation Program were Mahealani Bernes, Essie Hardy, Al Bernes, Karen Roy, Barbara Bazett and Sharon Newman.
Anh Le is a writer and journalist in San Francisco.