Pre-school ‘porch graduation’ leaves parents in tears

Pre-school graduation is an adorable memory for families to look back on and Mrs. Key, as the kids know her, was not going to let COVID-19 take that away.

Fairborn Primary School teacher Sarah Key arranged a front porch pre-school graduation ceremony for all 13 of her pre-school students and their families on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Parents watched, some with tears in their eyes, as their little one threw their cap in the air, signifying the end of a cherished chapter of childhood.

Coronavirus: Volunteer says “We can’t let our guard down, yet.”

“That was the best part for me,” Key said. “I have one picture of a little boy who’s smiling with his cap on and the mom is on the side and she’s standing there with the biggest smile. I emailed the photo to the mom and was like, ‘This is why I did this. I have his smile and your smile and just, oh my gosh. It’s hard not to cry about it.’”

When Key, who is the Fairborn Primary teacher in charge of of organizing pre-school graduation for all classes, found out that graduation could not take place, she reached out to a friend to see if she could help pull off the surprise. The friend happened to have New York City photographer, Eryc Perez de Tagle, staying with her and Perez said he would photograph the pre-schoolers for free.

The biggest challenge of the makeshift ceremony, Key said, was helping the kids to understand they couldn’t run to her for a big hug when they saw her outside waiting with a balloon and goodie bag on the porch.

“I think they know what’s going on, but I don’t think they fully grasp and understand how big of a deal it really is,” said Scott Boger, father of pre-schooler Brantley Boger. “I think they know people are getting sick and they know they can’t go places, but I don’t think they understand the full scale of it.”

>>PHOTOS: Porch graduation delights neighborhood

Brantley is Boger’s second child to have Key as their pre-school teacher.

“I have five kids total and hopefully they all go through her,” Boger said. “She’s a really good teacher. She’s amazing.”

Stores open to small crowds: ‘It makes you feel a little bit better’

The biggest challenge for Key the last couple months of the school year is not seeing her students.

“It’s really been hard,” Key said. “You get so attached to them and they honestly turn into your kids. So not seeing them everyday and having that routine of walking into the classroom and knowing what the day’s going to be like, it’s such a crazy thing.”

After watching the kids rummage through their bag of goodies filled with themed erasers and pencils, stickers and a blow-up beach ball, it’s safe to say the ceremony accomplished what Key hoped it would.

“They (parents) were just all smiling and so grateful,” Key said. “A couple of them said this is even better than the graduation, because ‘Now this is a memory that we’ll have forever.’”

Stories of Hope

We all need inspiration in these difficult times. And as always, this community delivers. We are sharing these stories of hope in action, every day in the Dayton Daily News.

About the Author