A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the graduation of seven of the 12 Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Jumpstart Kindergartens operated by ICM and privately funded by donors.
After 10 months of learning, over 180 children were celebrating their graduation, flanked by proud parents and teachers. They looked so smart and happy in their white graduation robes, white mortarboards and ribbons of commendation.
The children participated in the ceremony – I was stunned when these young graduates took the microphone and spoke English in clear and proud voices. We had a welcome speech, pledge of allegiance to the Christian Faith and the Bible and listened to the children sing the Philippine national anthem.
After the speeches each child came up onto the stage to be congratulated on their achievement and to receive a graduation certificate. There were academic awards for English and Filipino proficiency, awards for kindness, neatness and obedience. One very deserving boy received a “Most Active” award.
This made me smile, how wonderful that this little boy had received encouragement for being who he was.
The children entertained us with dancing and singing – they were so confident. Their graduation was such a special afternoon.
Attending the ICM Jumpstart kindergarten has given these bright children the opportunity to achieve an education that their parents otherwise would not be able to afford. The free lunch that all the kindergarten children enjoy each school-day gives them energy to learn and also helps their bodies grow.
Thinking of the educational opportunities my children have had, it was very moving to look at these wonderful children and know they have received the start in life they need to fulfill some of their dreams.
By Julie Farrell, ICM Board of Advisor. Photographs by Kenneth Lee and Julie Farrell
Editor’s note: ICM runs Jumpstart kindergartens in communities of greatest need. These are usually in geographically isolated and hard-to-reach areas that lack sufficient support from the public school system. In 2015-16 school year, ICM partnered with 75 local churches and generous donors to run this program, benefiting over 2,000 students.