The 2015-2016 school year has quickly come to a close at Grace Emmanuel School. While the rest of the school was studying and taking exams during the last two weeks of June, the third kindergarteners prepared for their graduation day—the big event that officially marks the end of the school year in Haiti.
Kindergarten graduation is a major event in the life of a Haitian child. Kindergarten in Haiti is made up of three years of school, starting around age 3 in “first” kindergarten and ending around age 6 in “third” kindergarten. Almost 1 of every 3 kids in Haiti never have the opportunity to complete kindergarten.
Families celebrate this achievement with an open house following the ceremony, serving a special meal of chicken and rice, pasta and beet salads, and crimp-cut watermelon adorned with Chiritos (think Cheetos Puffs). Coca-Cola, 7-Up and a syrupy sweet drink called “Couronne” are served in abundance from glass bottles.
This year, Haiti’s Department of Education planned to do away with graduation ceremonies, rightfully observing that they are a financial burden for families. But when this was brought to the attention of kindergarten parents at Grace Emmanuel School, they were not happy and protested the decision. They were determined to make this special celebration in their children’s lives happen—even if that meant a major financial sacrifice. So though it may cost money to buy new outfits and get new shoes and fancy hairdos, it is completely worth it for the parents to watch with pride as their children graduate.
Kindergarten graduation went off without a hitch on June 15, and was filled with cute memorized speeches, choreographed dances, matching outfits, and an audience full of very proud parents.
We look forward to welcoming these 20 students to 1st grade next year and pray in the coming years, they will keep beating the statistics and graduate from high school.