Families of students at the North Pocono Preschool and Ventures in Learning were “Touring the Tropics” at the North Pocono Middle School on June 22 as the preschools hosted their annual talent showcase.

Students from each class at the centers, with the guidance of their teachers and other school staff, danced to songs with a tropical theme, including “Hot, Hot, Hot,” “La Bamba,” “Day-O,” “Cha-Cha Slide,” and the “Macarena”.

In keeping with the theme, both the children and preschool employees were shorts, t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, and other summer clothing. Many also chose to accessorize with leis, flowers in their hair, or bandannas worn like beachcombers. For their onstage performances, children carried props such as pinwheels and maracas.

Mistress of ceremonies for the event was Marianne Laurito, director of the Moscow Center. Diplomas were bestowed upon the students who will be moving on to kindergarten in the fall by Christina Hitchcock, president of the Board of Directors.

Each year, a Service Award is presented to one of the school’s employees. This year, board of directors member Dave Cummins presented the award to Lisa Gunderman.

Ms. Gunderman, who was not able to be present at the event, has been employed by the preschool for twenty years. She has held a variety of positions and is currently an assistant teacher at the Moscow Center. Mr. Cummins lauded Ms. Gunderman’s service to the school as well as her ongoing commitment to continuing education in the field of early childhood care and development.

Attorney Jennifer McCambridge was the presenter for the Lifetime Achievement Award, an annual award bestowed upon a professional who has dedicated his or her career to directly serving children for a minimum of 20 years.

This year’s award went to James Collins, a longtime teacher in the Western Wayne School District and volunteer with the Hamlin L.E.A.P. program for school-age children. Unfortunately, Mr. Collins was also unable to attend the evening’s event.

The commencement address for this year’s program was given by Rev. Earl Trygar, pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Moscow. Rev. Trygar and his wife, Helen, are the parents of two sons who are graduates of the North Pocono Preschool.

In his speech, Rev. Trygar talked about how learning starts much earlier than formal education does and stated that the North Pocono Preschool gave his sons an advantage not just academically, but also in regard to their social development and development as people with values and integrity.

“There is no greater teacher than an adult who models these values,” said Rev. Trygar of the behavior and attitudes his sons learned at the preschool. “Our behavior as parents, grandparents, and teachers has to be on point all the time. It’s important for us to weight our words, to be kind, to respect other people, and to reinforce these values through our words and actions.”

The event concluded with the singing of the school’s alma mater, “North Pocono We Love You,” by the entire student body and staff gathered onstage. The event was a fitting sendoff for the children who are saying goodbye to their beloved preschools, but who are well equipped to meet the challenges of their academic and life’s journeys head-on thanks to their time under the loving care and direction of the teachers and staff at the North Pocono Preschool and Ventures in Learning.