Kindergarten teachers Jason Durham and Wendy McGillivray-Bjorkland (“Mrs. M-B”) sent off the future class of 2033 with warm words at the Nevis School kindergarten graduation on Wednesday.

First, however, music teacher Noelle Johnson led the kids in singing four songs.

They opened with “Tooty-Tah,” a warm-up chant whose verses, with corresponding actions, grew step by step to include “thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, eyes shut, tongues out and turn around.”

“I always think that Congress would get more done if they started every day with Tooty-Tah,” joked Johnson.

The other numbers included “Elephants Have Wrinkles,” “One Small Voice” and a kindergarten-sized parody of “New York, New York” called “First Grade, First Grade.”

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Kindergartners waved their trunks while singing the song "Elephants Have Wrinkles" during their graduation program on Wednesday. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)
Kindergartners waved their trunks while singing the song "Elephants Have Wrinkles" during their graduation program on Wednesday. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)

Durham urged everyone to remember the positives of the 2020-21 school year, despite the challenges caused by COVID-19.

“We don’t want to pretend that this year didn’t happen,” he said. “We want to rejoice that we prevailed and succeeded through such adversity.”

Recalling his students’ smiles and laughter, accomplishments and acts of kindness, Durham quoted from the book “I Wish You More” by Amy Rosenthal: “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep, … more hugs than ughs. I wish you more woo-hoo than whoa, more snowflakes than tongue, more pause than fast-forward. I wish you more umbrella than rain. I wish you more bubbles than bath, more treasures than pockets and more stories than stars.”

He said he and Mrs. M-B wished all these things for the kids because “you were everything she and I could wish for and more.”

Kindergarten graduates posed on the dais after fist-bumping Principal Brian Michaelson and their teachers and collecting their walking papers. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)
Kindergarten graduates posed on the dais after fist-bumping Principal Brian Michaelson and their teachers and collecting their walking papers. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)

Mrs. M-B recalled that out of 164 school days this year, kindergartners only met in person for 138 days due to Fridays being a distance learning day.

“The entire month of October is honestly a blur in my mind,” she said, “because that’s when we were hybrid, and we had half our kids come in one day” and half the next. “But we made it through, and we actually had 20 days when my entire class, all the kids, were there.”

Despite missing so many school days, Mrs. M-B said, the students thrived and made great progress from the beginning of the year, when some kids had to be peeled off their parents in the morning and others didn’t know how to grip a pencil because COVID-19 brought their pre-K year to a standstill.

“You should see them now,” she said. “Not only can they write their first and last names. … They have turned into readers, and they are so proud of it. They’ve grown in their math skills. They’ve developed new friendships, and they’ve grown in confidence. I am so proud of them.”

As the ceremony ended, families grabbed cake and went out on the school lawn to celebrate.

Three graduates grin upon receiving their kindergarten diplomas Wednesday. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)
Three graduates grin upon receiving their kindergarten diplomas Wednesday. (Robin Fish/Enterprise, May 26, 2021)

Nevis kindergarten graduates

Graduating Wednesday with the “Class of 2033” were: Isabel Albrecht, Eastynn Anderson, Paul Avenson, Brooklyn Bartlett, Weston Bixby, Charlotte Buckholtz, Khaleesi Crandall, Ireland Daley, Teegan Donnelly, Corbin Drury, Tayden East, Adam Edwards, Addie Ellenberg, Gannon Farrington, Savannah Ford, Grace Gilmore, Kinley Handelman, Woodrow Helfrich, Fletcher Hitchcock, Hudson Hitchcock, Ellie Holte, Ellis Isaacson, Weston Jesme, Hattie Johnson, Elsie Juergens, Jayson Kruchowski, Jedidiah Kruchowski, Luke Lester, James Lindow, Finnley Majors, Ava Misamore, Elijah Moorhouse, Mason Neis, Hannah Plautz, Brooks Podoll, Liam Reese, Josiah Ricks, Jackson Robbins, Talia Strandell, Greyson Trujillo and Weston Wroblewski.