As they marched into the auditorium, some seemed shy, some seemed jubilant, and some seemed interested only in waving to their parents. But all of the children taking part in the North Pocono Preschool and Ventures in Learning talent show and graduation were definitely adorable in their little yellow caps and gowns or their country and western themed clothing!

The theme for this year’s annual talent show, a longstanding tradition that marks the end of the school year, was “Gone Country.” This nod to the rural character of the North Pocono communities in which the preschoolers and their families reside lent itself well to energetic performances of singing and dancing by the children, as well as to a very appropriate-for-summer look to the stage set and in the clothing of the children and preschool staff.

Marianne Laurito, Moscow Center director, was mistress of ceremonies for the event. As she introduced each new speaker or song, she spoke about the ways in which the North Pocono Preschool and Ventures in Learning staff and administrators address the educational, social, and developmental needs of the students.

Ms. Laurito emphasized that the facilities provide a safe, positive, and welcoming environment in keeping with the guidelines established by the teachings of Maria Montessori and current educational theory. The staff actively engages in annual continuing education, and as a not-for-profit entity, all monies received by the preschool are used for facility upkeep, the purchase of materials and equipment used on the premises, and for staff salaries. She also stressed that “teaching young children must come from the heart” if children are to flourish in a preschool setting.

The talent show featured several country themed musical numbers performed by members of the preschool classes with guidance from staff. Diplomas were awarded by Christina Hitchcock, president of the Board of Directors, to the children who will be entering kindergarten in the fall.

The annual Service Award was presented by board member Andrew Seder to Debbie Nystrand. Ms. Nystrand, who was unable to be present at the event, has been employed by the preschool for 15 years. Originally the center’s physical technician, she is currently the business manager and also works in the school age room at the Moscow Center in the morning.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by board member Dave Cummins to Ellen Faliskie, assistant superintendent for the Western Wayne School District. Ms. Faliskie has been instrumental in the establishment of the Hamlin L.E.A.P. center and in creating quality afterschool programming. Her career in education began with teaching young children at the Hamlin Elementary Center. She progressed to a position as principal and oversaw the planning and creation of the Evergreen Elementary School.

Ms. Faliskie has received numerous professional honors and recognitions throughout her career in education, and is a member of several professional organizations. Mr. Cummins remarked, “It has been an honor and a privilege for us to work with Ellen. As you can see by her degrees, work experiences, and service with organizations, Ellen is more than qualified to receive this award.”

Rose Warner, mayor of Moscow Borough, gave the commencement address. Mrs. Warner is a teacher in the North Pocono School District and a strong believer in the importance of community involvement. She issued a challenge to the adults present to be an example and inspiration to the children. “Families working together, side by side, build string bonds and strong communities. The North Pocono Preschool exemplifies community and we are proud to have them as a part of our community,” said Mrs. Warner.

The event concluded with the singing of the Alma Mater, “North Pocono, We Love You” by the children, staff, and audience. As the young graduates embark on the next stage of their education this fall, they will no doubt carry with them fond memories of the friends they made, the things they learned, the fun they shared, and the care and kindness shown to them by the teachers and staff at Ventures in Learning and at the North Pocono Preschool.