ST. PETERSBURG – The Lew Williams Center for Early Learning graduated its second class of VPK students. All 32 pint-sized graduates will be sitting in a kindergarten class come August ready to pick up where they left off.
With more than 200 family members and friends packing into the auditorium at Pinellas Technical College to see their little ones receive their diplomas, the children where ebullient as they realized all of the fanfare was in their honor.
“These young people have worked really, really, really hard and have labored with us day in and day out so that they can be prepared for their next journey in life,” said Director Ulas Butler, who asked the parents to continue to support their children as they move through their educational careers.
Located at 901 34th St. S, the center strives to integrate three key elements for success: children, family and community. And last Wednesday night, their success was spotlighted when the kids recited poems, sang songs and danced to a choreograph routine.
And although graduating from preschool is a victory to be celebrated, Butler reminded parents that there are 12 more years of support and encouragement needed just to get them to college.
“So we’re asking that you continue to have the highest hopes and dreams for them because that is what we have aspired to here at Lew Williams,” he said.
Butler said that he and his staff worked tirelessly with the kids so that they would get “excited about learning, ready to explore and gain new knowledge that this world has to offer them.”
The graduating students received totes filled with books, pencils, crayons and writing pads to promote learning at home and stave off that dreaded summer learning loss.
The center is named in honor of long-time educator Lew Williams, who worked in the school district for 40 years until his death in 2011 at age 68 while serving as a school board member. Williams was a staunch supporter of early education, and had opened up a preschool with his wife called Kidz World before his death.