Dr. Chisholm wore the cap, gown and hood she earned after completing her Ph.D in psychological anthropology at Case Western Reserve University to address children and their families at the Louis Stokes Head Start Moving On Ceremony this month. She passionately told the crowd that the move from Head Start to Kindergarten is just the first of many transitions and graduations these students will celebrate. Her message was met with cheers from the crowd.

“These children are Greater Cleveland’s future and it’s our responsibility as a community to make sure our city is a welcoming place for them to grow,” said Dr. Chisholm. “We model our collective values to our children, so it’s important for us to set a great example: respect one another, lend a hand to those in need and be kind to one another. A healthy place to live for our children is a healthy place for all of us.”

Each Head Start center has its own Moving On ceremony, where parents, friends and teachers celebrate each student’s accomplishments that year. There is singing, cheering and non-stop picture taking. After the ceremony, many students receive balloons, flowers and stuffed animals as congratulatory gifts. But for many, the moment is bittersweet, as classmates and staff say “goodbye” to the students starting Kindergarten.

“It’s been the most exciting year to date for the Head Start program in Greater Cleveland,” said Dr. Thea Wilson, vice president of children and families for the Council for Economic Opportunities. “All of our preschools are now high-quality rated by the State of Ohio, we’ve placed greater emphasis on professional development for our teachers and our parents are becoming increasingly involved and providing feedback for improving our programming and future outreach…..we’re excited about this momentum.”

Just because a student is leaving Head Start for Kindergarten doesn’t mean the relationship ends between the family and The Council for Economic Opportunities. The organization encourages parents and guardians to continue to engage and learn through personal, family and professional development workshops offered through three Neighborhood Opportunity Centers throughout the summer months.

Parents and guardians can also register for the coming year’s Head Start class. There are three easy ways to enroll: visit ceogc.org, sign up at any Head Start center or call the Head Start enrollment hotline at (216) 589-9922.