The first graduating class from the city's Pre-K 4 SA program have officially been promoted.
Wednesday morning about 71 students from the South Side Education Center received certificates of completion. The rest of the center's 309 students each received certificates at their own ceremonies over the past week. The city reports that there are 333 students at the North Education center who also graduated.
These 642 students are the very first to complete the first full year of the Pre-K 4 SA program. The initiative passed in November 2012 with the centers constructed in roughly nine months, opening last August.
The initiative didn't pass with overwhelming support, but it was enough to make the program a reality. The director of the South Side center, Belinda Gonzalez, said this year has been proof the program works.
"The minute you get into our centers you feel the joy, you feel the presence," said Gonzalez. "You see the classroom. Right away you can see the high quality that our teachers are offering the students. And not only that, the programs that we have for parents have also been well received."
She said the kids are now ready for kindergarten, having grown academically and socially over the year.
"I'm very proud to say we have the most incredible teachers and the most incredible families. They're going to be just ready to rock and roll in kindergarten," Gonzalez said.
Two more centers will be ready to open by next school year, bringing the total to four. The North Side and South Side centers close Thursday for the summer.