HKSB in the Media
Education A Proud Day For Blind Preschoolers
New York Daily News
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
by Tanyanika Samuels
The lights dimmed, the flue music played, then one by one, the tiny preschool graduates from Helen Keller Services for the Blind made their way down the aisle for their special day.
All around them, proud parents and teachers sat on the edge of their seats, craning their necks, cameras poised, watching the top of each tiny, blue cap and dangling tassel in the front row at the KeySpan auditorium in downtown Brooklyn.
“All graduations are a celebration,” Principal Samuel Morgan told the audience Thursday, “but for many of our children, being here today is a real victory and a story of survival.”
The 10 graduates are from the program’s Children’s Learning Center, a preschool program geared toward youngsters ages 3 to 5 who are partially or completely blind. Some of the children also are physically disabled.
A handful of the graduates are to go on to mainstream elementary schools with special education teachers. The others are set to go to specialized programs.
The graduates treated their audience to four songs during whi9chy they banged enthusiastically on tiny xylophones and drums.
During a slide show, the audience clapped and laughed at photographs of the graduates making funny faces, playing in the park and enjoying school field trips.
Then came the moment everyone had waited for, when each received a colorful diploma.
“That was so wonderful,” Walenska Barcenas said afterward. Her son, Jeremiah, 4, was among the graduates.
The Bay Ridge mom has noticed a lot of changes with her son in the 3 ½ years he has been at the school.
“He tries to be more independent. He’s drinking out of a straw and trying to eat on his own,” she said. “To see him grow from a little baby to now, he’s like a little man. It’s very emotional.”
Lisa Keith’s family couldn’t stop snapping picture after picture of little Javon.
“It was beautiful,” she said of her son’s graduation.
She, too, has noticed much progress. “He’s so loving now, and he’s smiling all the time,” Keith said.
Aaliyah Tribble, 5, dressed in purple gown and tiara, wants to be a doctor when she grows up. But for now, she was content to run about with her friends.
When asked how she liked graduation, she chirped, “Fine,” then dashed off.
“She is so excited, this is all she could talk about,” said her mom, Deserive McDonald. “We’re really proud of her.”
Photo appearing with this article:
Katiana Velez with mom, Loida Madera, after graduation at Helen Keller Services for the Blind.