The Child Development playschool program held a 50th year party this morning at Pattonville High School and current and former teachers in the family and consumer sciences department were there to celebrate with current high schoolers and preschoolers.
Leah Buchanan Coleman graduated from Pattonville High School and had Tracie Olson and Susan Saputo as teachers. Her son, Peyton, is now a preschooler enrolled in the program.
“It's an awesome program and the kids, both the preschoolers and the high schoolers, get to learn so much in it,” she said. “The toddlers are learning a lot this year because it is very interactive and I just love it.”
Saputo said that’s proof the program is affecting generations.
“We've had several children that were playschool students who have then become high schoolers enrolled in the program, and then they’ve become parents and put their kids into the program,” she said.
This year, the program faced challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The on-site playschool learning lab was not possible, so they offered what they called Playschool@Home. The 13 participating preschoolers this year have been given activities made by students in Child Development 1 to do at home at their own pace and met with the high schoolers in Child Development 2 for virtual learning.
“It’s worked beautifully because we've had some great kids, the families have been very supportive and we’ve involved the high school students who are enrolled in the classes,” Saputo said. “They’ve all been flexible, just like everyone has been this year, to make virtual learning work, but we are hopeful for next year and having some normalcy again.”
Today, a little bit of that was possible with the outdoor celebration.
Senior Tatum Wilson and her classmates prepared the activities, decorated, and created the guest list and invitations during class with Olson. Tatum also met her student face-to-face for the first time.
“I’m used to seeing her on the computer screen and I don’t think she recognized me at first today,” Wilson said. “I have to wear my mask and when we are online, she can usually see my whole face, but it was a great day for this and we had fun.”
Olson said most people don’t realize the program has been around for 50 years.
“It's been a long time and I've been here now for 25 of them. The program continues to grow and change and we hope it's around for many more,” she said.
The party had several stations set up and it allowed the students to demonstrate what they have learned in class this year.
“The kids did a fantastic job with the celebration and I think the high school kids needed this," she said. "It was awesome getting both sets of groups together and having some fun.”