BELFAST — Fourteen children, ages 4 and 5, and one veteran teacher completed the preschool year in style June 10 at the Waldo County YMCA.

Ten of the children will start kindergarten next year. And Karen Whitham, assistant teacher for the past seven years, celebrated her retirement. All showed tremendous growth and are ready for their next challenges, YMCA CEO Russell Werkman said in a press release.

Waldo County YMCA preschool graduates celebrate at the Dale Cross Pavilion June 10. Courtesy of Waldo County YMCA

Jen Johnson, head teacher at the Little Learners Preschool, told assembled families, “Your children grew so much over the year. Each of them benefited from the structured learning time, unstructured play time, swimming and movement lessons. In addition, they brought endless joy to the community members at AOA ‘Car Hop’ luncheons, with their waves, smiles, and requests for honking horns.”

The Little Learners Preschool gives parents peace of mind while they are at work, while playing a critical role in developing young children as active learners and caring friends, Werkman said in the release. Caitlyn Pavalkis, a parent of one of the graduates, said, “We saw so much growth in our son and know he is ready for kindergarten. We are grateful to Miss Jen, Miss Karen, and all the staff for the love they showered on our son this year.”

Head Teacher Jen Johnson, left, with retiring Waldo County Y preschool teacher Karen Witham June 10.

Karen Whitham, the retiring teacher, smiled radiantly at her last class of preschool chlidren. She said she would miss them all and the staff at the Waldo County Y, but added, “Darlin,’ I’ll be back to visit!”

Next year’s preschool class is already fully enrolled and Jen Johnson hopes she will be able to find another assistant teacher so that the Y can bring more children off the waiting list.