Picture yourself however many years ago, learning about life and playing with your friends at preschool.

All of a sudden, you can’t attend anymore. You can’t hang out with your classmates. And if you’re headed for kindergarten at the start of the new school year, you won’t be seeing them again, at least in the same context.

“We think we might do a summer picnic when this is all said and done,” Michelle Kirk said, referring, of course, to when everyone can go back to normal post-COVID-19.

About half the students at Hamilton Church Preschool in Bethel Park, where Kirk serves as director, aren’t scheduled to return as they reach the next level of education. And given everyone’s abrupt departure in mid-March, she’d like to give the older children one more opportunity to visit with their school buddies.

Meanwhile, Kirk and members of her staff are adjusting to not being able to spend time with their students personally.

“We’ve been communicating with them about how they’re doing and the things that they are keeping busy with,” Kirk said. “They’re having a good time, but they’re missing their classmates and missing their teachers.”

Through online avenues, teachers are sharing the school calendar with students, and providing instruction about what they would have been working on during a certain day or week.

“And I have been encouraging them to, if it’s Pet Week or Green Week or Yellow Day or whatever, share it online,” Kirk said. “Have the parents post, and they can all share pictures and videos of what they’re doing.

“I’ve also been emailing links to them of resources I find that are preschool-related, so they have something a little extra than just Mom and Dad and their house,” she continued. “There’s a lot out there now, which is wonderful to see, such as celebrities who are reading storybooks.”

Something a little extra took place on behalf of a Hamilton student named Will, who was about to turn 5.

“Normally, we would have a celebration at school, complete with hats and goodies and some extra-special fun in the classroom,” Kirk said. “But seeing as how we couldn’t do that, we thought we would do a little drive-by celebration at his house.”

She put out the word on the preschool’s Facebook page.

“Come and join us at 11:30, and we’ll all drive by and toot and say hello!” her post said.

“The families showed up and did more than that,” she said. “They had balloons out their windows, signs out their windows, signs on their cars. A couple of them threw a little gift.”

All the while, Will and his family stood on their driveway, thoroughly enjoying the properly socially distanced spectacular.

“They really had a grand old time,” Kirk said.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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