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Students Celebrate Read Across America Day March 13, 2019

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Preschool Will Celebrate 25th Anniversary February 21, 2019

"Pastor Steve (Doutrich) loved trains," recalled Dottie Klase, sharing how Kids Express Preschool (KEP), a ministry of Grace Church at Willow Valley, 300 Willow Valley Square, Lancaster, got its name when it was founded almost three decades ago.

The railroad theme has been carried through the 25 years that the preschool has operated. When the school opened, it offered classes for children ages 3, 4, and 5. A Toddler Junction program was hosted on Fridays before it was replaced by a class for 2-year-olds. The rooms where the 77 students currently enrolled in the 2-year-old, 3-year-old, and prekindergarten classes meet are named for train cars, including tank cars, box cars, and cabooses.

Another definition of "train" has also played out over the years, particularly in the last five with director Mary Liz Youtz. Proverbs 22:6 advises, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Starting children well for a lifetime of learning and leading is important to Youtz. She noted that when she was hired, she reviewed the mission and vision of the preschool and sought to infuse the curriculum, which had been focused on meeting all the benchmarks for Keystone STARS, with biblical teachings.

"We work closely with Penn Manor and Lampeter-Strasburg (school districts) to develop standards and prepare students for kindergarten, but it's all taught in a faith-based framework," Youtz said.

During the quarter-century that KEP has been open, at least 1,800 children have attended classes and activities, and 132 staff members have worked with those students. "That's a lot of kids we've ministered to," Youtz remarked. "God's been really faithful."

"Having a Christian atmosphere is important to me," commented parent Bria Kenny, whose children have attended KEP. "It helps reinforce what we're teaching at home. My kids love coming here."

Kenny also loves being at KEP. Her mother is Klase, who has worked at KEP from the beginning. Kenny was a student for the 1994-95 school year, and as she grew older, she returned often to assist her mother. Kenny became an official employee at age 16, when she worked with the school's summer camps. Now she serves as a teacher's aide.

"I like the teachers here," Kenny said. "They're loving, caring, and super great with my kids."

"I just absolutely love it (here)," Klase added. "I love the kids, (especially) their excitement when they learn new things."

To celebrate KEP's 25th anniversary, Youtz has planned a family fun festival set for Friday, March 22, in the preschool wing of the church. Anyone who has been involved with KEP throughout the years may stop in anytime between 6:25 and 8:25 p.m. Activities that evening will be free of charge and will include a bounce house, face painting, a photo booth, crafts, games, spin art, and things for teenagers to do. Classrooms will be open for tours, and librarian Sue Thomas will read a story every half-hour in the new library. Door prize drawings will be held as well. Light refreshments will be served.

"We want it to be fun and festive, celebrating 25 years of God's faithfulness and strengthening families," Youtz commented.

Additionally, there will be a memory wall, which Youtz hopes to fill with photos from the school's history. She would like people to email copies of their KEP photos to her at kep@gracewv.org by Monday, March 18, or they may bring photos to the festival. Some portfolios - KEP's version of yearbooks - will be displayed, but attendees may bring theirs as well.

"I'm looking forward to reminiscing and seeing former students and previous staff," Klase said.

Folks who are interested in enrolling children in KEP are also welcome to attend the family fun festival. Enrollment is open, and those who would like more information may visit www.KidsExpressPreschool.org. To set up a tour of the school, readers may email Youtz or call 717-464-1439.

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Preschool To Celebrate Dr. Seuss February 21, 2019

St. John's United Church of Christ Preschool, 161 N. Main St., Red Lion, will hold a "Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!" evening on Tuesday, March 5, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. for preschool-age children ages 2 and a half to 4 and their caregivers. Attendees may enjoy a Seuss-themed craft, stories, snacks, and a gift.

The event is free, but preregistration is requested. For more information or to register, readers may call St. John's at 717-244-5031 or Mary Zambito, preschool director, at 717-817-1162.

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Preschool Registration Opens February 20, 2019

St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 45 First Ave., Red Lion, is accepting preschool registrations for the 2019-20 school year in both the two-day and three-day classes.

Classes provide a preschool experience within a Christian environment in a classroom setting that includes structured academic lessons, a variety of thematic learning activities and play, monthly field trips, an end-of-year graduation and program, and holiday celebrations. Students receive report cards twice per year.

To register for the two-day class, a student must be eligible for kindergarten in two years based on the eligibility date for Red Lion Area School District. In order to register for the three-day class, a student must be eligible for kindergarten the following year. The date for kindergarten eligibility in the Red Lion Area School District, for which students must be age 5, is Saturday, Aug. 31.

The preschool year runs from September through May. To register or obtain additional information, readers may contact the church office at 717-244-2355. Details are also available at www.saintpauls-um.com.

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Preschool Posts Openings January 31, 2019

Great Beginnings Preschool at the First Presbyterian Church of Strasburg, 101 S. Decatur St., Strasburg, has openings available in the Monday and/or Wednesday morning 2-year-old classes, the Tuesday and Thursday 3-year-old classes, and the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday prekindergarten classes that will start in September. Parents are welcome to stop by anytime to visit the classrooms. Private tours are also available.

The preschool aims to provide a nurturing environment, opportunities for socialization and personal accomplishments, introduction to a variety of educational concepts to prepare them for kindergarten, physical education, art, music, science, story time, individual and group play, field trips, special classroom visitors, and daily snacks. Parent volunteers can earn tuition discounts.

For a brochure or more information, readers may visit www.straspres.org or contact Lynn at 717-687-6082.

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Nursery School Posts Open House January 30, 2019

SEYCo Nursery School will host an open house on Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The school is located at 26 S. Main St., Stewartstown.

The open house will be an opportunity for people to learn more about the school's program, visit the classrooms, and meet the teachers. SEYCo offers a prekindergarten for 4-year-olds as well as 3-year-old and 2-year-old classes.

For more information, readers may visit www.seyconursery.org or contact the school at 717-993-3353 or seycokids@gmail.com.

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Preschool Collects Items For Donation January 28, 2019

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Preschool Sets Open House January 24, 2019

Bossler Christian Preschool, 2021 Bossler Road, Elizabethtown, will hold a drop-in open house on Thursday, Feb. 7, between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Families are invited to bring preschoolers to give them the opportunity to experience learning in a one-room schoolhouse.

The preschool serves children ages 3 to 5, aiming to help them learn through Bible stories, art and cooking experiences, science discoveries, music and movement activities, math, and language development.

Readers may visit www.bosslerchristianpreschool.com or call 717-537-8192 for more information.

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Preschool Plans Open House January 23, 2019

Lampeter Community Preschool will hold an open house during the week of Monday, Jan. 28, to Friday, Feb. 1. Preschoolers and their families are invited to drop in between 9 and 11:30 a.m. to visit the classrooms and meet the teachers. The preschool is located at Lampeter Church of the Brethren, 1900 Lampeter Road, Lampeter. Registration for new families was slated to begin on Jan. 28.

The preschool offers a two-day-per-week class for 2-year-olds on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11:15 a.m., along with a two-day-per-week class for 3- and 4-year-olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The Prekindergarten 1 classes meet three days per week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The Prekindergarten 1 class is for 4- and 5-year-olds completing a prekindergarten class for the first time. The preschool also offers a Prekindergarten 2 class that meets on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The Prekindergarten 2 class is for children who have previously completed a prekindergarten program but are waiting to enter kindergarten. The class is especially well suited for children with birthdays later in the school year or in summer and allows more time for kindergarten readiness. All classes are taught by experienced, certified teachers.

The Lampeter Community Preschool seeks to provide a caring Christian environment in which children can adjust to being away from home, grow socially and academically, and develop an enthusiasm for learning. For more information, readers may call the church office at 717-464-2050 or visit www.lampcob.com.

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MOMS Club Plans Preschool Fair January 4, 2019

Elizabethtown and the surrounding areas are rich in resources and opportunities, but sometimes finding and sorting through all of those options can be overwhelming - especially for parents scouting out potential schools for their children. That is why the MOMS Club of Elizabethtown hosts a preschool fair every year. President Erica Leilous stated that the purpose of the event is to highlight educational offerings of local preschools in order to help parents make the right choice for educating their young children.

The ninth annual MOMS Club of Elizabethtown preschool fair is set to take place on Saturday, Jan. 19, from 9 to 11 a.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 398 N. Locust St., Elizabethtown. Admission is free. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26.

Leilous noted that preschools typically begin sign-ups and enrollment for the fall in the spring of the same year, so exploring options early is key. "While most schools start when the child is age 3 or 4, some, such as Elizabethtown Community Nursery School, can start as young as age 2," added Leilous. "Those attending Children's Playroom of Lancaster County can start as infants."

Schools and organizations scheduled to take part in the event include Bossler Christian Preschool, Children's Playroom of Lancaster County, Elizabethtown Child Care Center (ECCC), Elizabethtown Community Nursery School, Fishburn Flock Christian Day Care and Early Learning Center, GEARS Kids Center, Kids Playhouse at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church, Kraybill Mennonite School, Lancaster Mennonite School - Hershey Campus, Mount Calvary Christian School, Play 2 Learn, Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary School, Susquehanna Waldorf School, Tiny Timbers Christian Preschool, and Under the Willow Preschool.

"It is a great opportunity to explore all the schools at one time, in one location, versus researching all the options on your own," Leilous remarked. "It is great to have the face-to-face interaction and to meet individuals that could possibly be working with your child."

Additionally, the MOMS Club of Elizabethtown will hold a bake sale at the fair. A local business that offers educational classes and camps for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children will have a table of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) activities set up for attendees to try and purchase. Plus, a local school bus service will have a bus parked outside for another Touch-A-Bus experience, which Leilous said was a popular part of last year's preschool fair, too.

Leilous described the MOMS Club of Elizabethtown as a group of mothers that are currently at home raising their children. Members must have an Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Bainbridge, Marietta, Maytown, or Lawn address to join officially, as the club is an official chapter of MOMS Club International.

The group gathers monthly at an official Club Connections meeting, typically held on the first Friday of each month at a location in Elizabethtown. "This meeting is where club news, planning, and event discussion take place while children play," said Leilous.

Members also take turns planning and hosting play dates, activities, outings, and child-friendly field trips to local places. "It is a great way for moms to make friends with other moms in the area that are also currently home and gives children opportunities to interact and play with others," commented Leilous.

For more information on MOMS Club of Elizabethtown, interested individuals may stop by the membership table at the preschool fair or email etownmomsclub@gmail.com.

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Program Set For Preschoolers January 4, 2019

The Mountville Church of the Brethren, 60 W. Clay St., will offer Tots 'n Tunes, a free program for preschool children and their parents, grandparents, or other caregivers, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Mondays from Jan. 14 through March 25, except Feb. 18.

The program will include free play as well as a music class and time for parachute play. Adults should feel free to bring appropriate snacks for their child.

No preregistration is necessary. More information about the church is available at www.mountvillecob.org.

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BSEL Hosts Party With Santa December 26, 2018

On Dec. 4, Brandywine School of Early Learning (BSEL) hosted its second annual PJ Party With Santa from 5 to 7 p.m. to benefit the Scott Elliott Scholarship Fund. The school invited families to celebrate the holiday season with Santa.

Students gathered to celebrate by writing letters, making crafts, reading stories and meeting with Santa.

The school raised more than $400 for the Scott Elliott Scholarship Fund. Elliott was a member of the BSEL community who lost his battle with cancer on July 16, 2017. He was the husband of Hillary Heebner-Elliott and the father of Trevor and Piper Heebner-Elliott.

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Preschoolers Donate Items December 20, 2018

Elizabethtown Community Nursery School recently collected items to donate to Caitlin's Smiles as part of the school's Christmas giving program. Families donated door hangers, bags, and stickers that the nursery school children made into craft kits. Sketch pads and coloring books were also donated.

Caitlin's Smiles is a local nonprofit that provides craft items to children in the hospital.

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Home-Based Head Start Welcomes New Students December 20, 2018

"(Home-Based Head Start) is perfect for my child," commented Nedra Rohm, whose 5-year-old daughter, Leah, participates in the program that recently opened in Strasburg. Once a week, home visitor Melanie Bird spends 90 minutes with Leah and Nedra at their house, working together to help Leah make a successful transition to kindergarten next fall.

"Large crowds are too much (for Leah), and there's less stimulation in a one-on-one at home," Nedra said. "She's getting what she needs. It's awesome that they provide this."

Head Start offers a free, high-quality prekindergarten program for 3- and 4-year-old children from income-eligible families. It is parent-based and uses the Parents As Teachers curriculum.

"Parents are the child's first teachers," Bird explained. "I teach the parent, who teaches the child, and when they go to school, these are the parents who will be involved."

In addition to weekly home visits, students who enroll in the Strasburg-area Head Start program are also encouraged to attend two socialization days a month, which are held at Wesley United Methodist Church, 40 W. Main St., Strasburg. Between the individualized and group instruction, students will be assisted in developing fine motor skills, as well as literacy and cognitive skills. They will also learn about health, nutrition, and safety.

Nedra noted that while large groups are difficult for Leah, she has done well in the group meetings.

"There's not a big crowd here," Nedra remarked. "It gives her another outlet for social interactions that she needs."

Along with educational resources, Bird connects parents and students with social services that can provide things like food, home heating fuel, and weatherization, as needed. Students also have access to health and development screenings and help for challenging behaviors, and parent workshops will be held periodically.

Home-Based Head Start is offered by Lancaster County Head Start, which is a program of Community Action Program of Lancaster County. The program is funded by federal grants. Bird noted that the federal government wants a Head Start to operate in every school district in the country. Because the Strasburg-area Head Start is located in a church, not a school building, enrollment is not limited to children who live in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District.

Bird currently has openings for five children and will create a waiting list. Parents who would like more information or would like to enroll their children may call Bird at 717-333-1939.

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A Holiday Tradition December 18, 2018

Loretta McClarigan, a teacher at St. John's Preschool Learning Center, located in St. John's United Methodist Church, 3001 E. Lincoln Highway, Paradise, has been working with children for a long time. One special holiday project that McClarigan has made a St. John's tradition is creating gingerbread houses with students and parents each December.

"Some (students) make light posts, pretzel fences, sidewalks with cereal, or candy cane sleds for the gummy bear (inhabitants) to ride," observed McClarigan, who oversees the children with assistant Jane Horst.

This year, on Dec. 18 and 19, the 26 students, including a class of 3-year-olds and a class of 4- and 5-year-olds, along with parents and grandparents, spent time building the holiday confections at the school. "We ... decorate with chocolates and mini animal crackers. Gummy bears are (the student's) favorite," noted McClarigan, who added that the parent/child interaction inherent in the activity is important, but that the annual event also aims to foster creativity, constructing, and sharing.

"We start with a small milk carton, cut graham crackers to just the right sizes, and then 'glue' (them) to (the milk) carton using icing," said McClarigan. According to Horst, the secret to successful gingerbread house making is the sticky frosting made at the preschool using a mix for powdered meringue. A few weeks prior to the project, parents signed up to bring in a variety of cereals, colored candies, gumdrops, pretzels, candy canes, marshmallows, and other edible items to decorate the houses.

The activity wrapped up with homemade Christmas cookies, cheese and crackers, and fruit brought by parents. "(We had) hot chocolate too," noted McClarigan.

An emphasis on the spirit of Christmas is a part of the annual activity. "We have a bulletin board up that says, 'Christmas is the time for caring and sharing,'" said McClarigan. "We try to (extend) that over into (the message that) every day is for caring and sharing."

St. John's Preschool Learning Center serves more than 30 children. Classes are provided five days per week from September until late May. Readers who would like more information may call 717-687-6711.

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Preschool Honors Veterans November 30, 2018

The prekindertgarten classes at Kids Express Preschool celebrated Veterans Day by inviting family members who had served in the military to be recognized for their service.

Four family members were able to share their stories with the classes. One great-grandfather, Richard Gilbert, who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, spoke about his job in quality control. He was responsible for making sure equipment worked properly, including things from trucks to hats and boots.

Army Reserve Specialist Brian Stevens, a great-uncle, shared some photos of the vehicle that he drove. He also told the students about the camels he saw in Afghanistan.

A mother and father who served in the U.S. Marines also presented. Angela Goss shared photos of the jets she worked with, and Eric Goss shared about his experiences while serving in Iraq. During an exercise in the ocean, he and his fellow Marines thought they encountered a shark, but the animal turned out to be a dolphin.

Students and presenters also shared a snack and sang songs.

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Preschool Holds Thanksgiving Feast November 30, 2018

Kids Express Preschool (KEP) held its annual Thanksgiving Feast in November. In honor of the students and their families, the families were invited to attend. All the children were able to invite guests of their choice. This year, KEP served approximately 280 adults and children, not including church and preschool staff members.

Many volunteers helped to prepare the meal, which included turkey, filling, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls and butter, and dessert. KEP families contributed ingredients.

The children created centerpieces and their own placemats for the tables. After the feast, the items were sent home to be used on the families' tables on Thanksgiving. The children also prepared a short program, including a song and Bible verse, for their parents. The children joined their parents at their assigned tables for the meal.

KEP is celebrating its 25th anniversary. A drop-in celebration will take place on Friday, March 22, 2019, from 6:25 to 8:25 p.m. The public is invited. More information will be posted at www.kidsexpresspreschool.org and on the "Kids Express Preschool" page on Facebook. To enroll a child at KEP, readers may call 717-464-1439.

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Nursery Holds Spaghetti Dinner November 21, 2018

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Nursery School Student Wins Bicycle November 15, 2018

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Nursery School Holds Fall Festival November 9, 2018

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