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There wasn’t ‘a dry eye’ at Maples Day Nursery in Winchester as staff said goodbye to their graduating class with a cap and gown ceremony and barbeque party for 130 guests.
The 42 graduates of the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ nursery in Hatherley Road, who wore special red mortar board hats and gowns, were presented with certificates and gifts and carried out some experiments with their science teacher Mr. Fizz Pop.
As Maples Manager, Sarah Gibson, explained the Saturday leaver’s party, when the graduates and their family had the magical gardens and wooden Fort to themselves, is always an occasion for mixed emotions:
“Everything we do here is focused on sending happy, confident and fully prepared children into mainstream schooling. We are celebrating that today but saying goodbye to children we have looked after since they were babies is very difficult,” she said.
“The pre-school class has been an absolute joy to be around and I know they will all do very well at school. We are excited for them but we will miss them all dreadfully,” she added.
For parents, too, the farewells were emotional as, for some the graduation of their youngest child meant the end of an era. More than half the leavers had been at Maples since they were babies. Wearing protective goggles, graduates made sherbet and giant yellow foam they called ‘elephant toothpaste’.
Maples Chef, Pawel Kujanek, pulled ‘out all the stops’ with a barbeque feast and graduation cake.