Casa del Carmen Preschool Academy Drive-Through Graduation

The steady rain of the previous week turned to sunshine just in time for the Casa Del Carmen Preschool Academy Graduation.

Last Saturday morning Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church on East Hunting Park Avenue, the 56 tiny graduates gathered in the parking lot with their parents and teachers to commemorate their first academic milestone: Preschool Graduation.

The graduates, each in a pint-sized cap and gown, and their families, were being honored with a special drive-through graduation celebration. The families of the honorees drove through the parking lot and were greeted by their cherished teachers and staff one last time. The event marked the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.

Each young graduate received a diploma and award certificates. Individual gift bags for each child were filled with essential kindergarten supplies to prepare the graduates to take the next step in their school journey.

Casa del Carmen is in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia and has operated as a preschool since 1998. This past year, 89 children attended the daily preschool, from September to June. 36 children are scheduled to participate in the 7-week summer camp hosted by the center.

PHLpreK and Pre-K Counts at Casa del Carmen

Quality pre-k programs like the one at Casa Del Carmen can apply for funding from the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under separate programs.

Of the 56 graduates, 51 children are graduating from the PHLpreK program, funded by Philadelphia’s Office Children and Families and five are graduating from the Pre-K Counts program, administered and funded by the Commonwealth.

PHLpreK offers free, quality pre-k at more than 150 centers throughout Philadelphia. Funds are provided for the program through the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. Since 2017 over eight thousand students and their families have participated in the program.

There are no income eligibility requirements for the PHLpreK program. Children who reach the age of 3 or 4 by September 1 may enroll in the program for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts pre-kindergarten program, established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, makes quality pre-kindergarten opportunities available to children and families across the commonwealth.

Space-themed Summer Camp at Casa del Carmen

The Monday morning after the graduation, Casa del Carmen was empty of children but far from empty: Staff members attended professional development training in early childhood behavior. The preschool’s director, Shari Gold, was overseeing staff training, and getting ready for summer camp.

“Blasting Off to Space” is the theme for summer camp this year at Casa del Carmen. Activities, projects, and learning will reflect that theme for the seven week program. Funding for the camp is providing, in part, by the Archbishop’s Benefit for Children. The funding allows families to enroll in the camp for $100.00 per child, per week.

Thirty children will participate in “Blasting Off to Summer”  this summer at Casa del Carmen. Staffers are hard at work decorating classrooms and hallways with with planets, stars, rockets, and everything else a preschool astronaut might need.

Sparks Art Therapy will be on hand to do crafts and art projects with the campers. Whenever the weather permits, campers will enjoy the outdoors. Nutritional Development Services, a ministry of Catholic Social Services, supplies breakfast, lunch, and snacks for campers.

Trips Planned for Summer Campers

Both staffers and campers alike can look forward to trips this summer, now that Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed.

The camp has planned two trips: the Philadelphia Zoo, and Storybook Land, a perennial favorite of campers. Located in Egg Harbor township, Storybook Land is perfect for young children, featuring age-appropriate rides and attractions.

The amusement park will be the culminating activity in an early childhood program that, according to Director Gold, puts the needs of campers and their families first.

“Because we truly believe in consistency of care, we have a summer camp so our parents don’t have to worry about making alternate arrangements for summer. They can be assured that their children are in a safe space for the summer.”

 

Fifty Years Of Service to the Community

In addition to being a preschool and summer camp, Casa del Carmen is a Family Service Center of Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Founded by His Eminence John Cardinal O’Hara, the center opened it’s doors in 1954 to minister to the social service needs of the Hispanic community in North Philadelphia.

Over its fifty year history, Casa del carmen has developed a range of family support services to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.

Summer camp continues that tradition. When the thirty little astronauts arrive for the start of camp, Gold and her dedicated staff will be ready to “blast off” and ensure they enjoy seven safe, fun-filled, enriching weeks. “We are looking forward to a lot of fun, a lot of laughter, learning about Space and enjoying fellowship”

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Amy Adams
Creative Student

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