While members of its first graduating class are well on their way into their careers, they can be proud to say it all started at Bedrock Playschool.
Charlene Vescarelli was part of the small group that founded the playschool.
“There was nothing for the kids before kindergarten, there was no playschool,” said Vescarelli. “There were some play groups at the churches or 'Mom’s Time Out,' but there was nothing ever organized in a classroom type setting.”
She cannot remember who made the initial suggestion to look into a playschool, but there was interest.
Lori Stefanishion remembers after the initial idea was discussed between six or eight parents, there was a meeting at one of the schools to gauge support for the idea, and the need was identified.
The group formed a society and got busy fundraising for equipment. As a society, they were able to secure some government granting.
“I think it went very smoothly,” said Stefanishion. “It was good, it was something that was needed, and it was fun for our kids.”
The first classes were held at what is now Grace Community Church across from Greentree School. Stefanishion said they went through a few teachers before Clara Stubert came on and served for many years. Since then, the school has had a number of high quality teachers and a few different locations. Currently it is located in the basement of the Knox United Church.
The program has grown since those initial days. Currently the school has two teachers and offers programs for three and four year olds. Children can attend from one day to three times a week. At its core is the same philosophy of providing a nurturing, encouraging environment that allows a child to explore, socialize and learn. The school has a strong component of parent involvement.
“It’s still going and it has provided a lot of kids with a stepping stone to get them ready for school. We have had some good teachers throughout the years who came and went,” said Vescarelli. “It is something to be proud of, and the community as well has taken over and run it for years, and has made sure it kept going. It has been great for the kids.”
Some of these trailblazers have been invited back to the school for its 25th anniversary celebration.
The celebration is on Friday, May 6, from 4-7 p.m. Playschool secretary Bridget Chan said the event will be an open house and the community is invited. They are planning to hear from some of the founders of the school reflecting on its history, and will allow present day teachers to talk about the program and what is offered today. Mayor Terry Yemen is also slated to attend.
Chan said it is a great opportunity for those interested in enrolling their children in the future to be introduced to the school and the program.