said it best on a beautiful sunny afternoon with dozens of folks, young and old, buzzing up and down Main Street. “As you stroll down the center it is unique because of the beauty and people who recognize our young folks.”
In fact, Thursday’s crowds were all about the young folks and the art they created. More than 350 pieces of art were hung on merchants’ windows throughout the town center. Participating pre-schools and day cares included, , ,(BELC), , Rhonda’s Rhompers,, and .
Not only was artwork by Branford’s best artists on display but so were many, many ice cream covered faces thanks to who was giving out free cones to all the children strolling through town.
Renee Arenas of Branford couldn’t have said it better, “Beautiful weather, ice cream and art…”
Indeed all the magical ingredients were present, including silly bands handed out at , Kinder Music demonstrations with Easter egg giveaways and a free pasta buffet at Ms. Judy’s donated by . Of course the main ingredient was the children who were so excited to see their artwork on display. Many squealed with delight once they found their piece. Parents, grandparents – and in the Callahan’s family case, the family dog – posed for pictures next to the much sought after pieces of art.
Susan Manzo who took several pictures of her daughter, Sofia, posed in front of her artwork hung on the window of said, “It’s so nice, the weather was just right for it. It was nice to have a reason to get out.”
Even DaRos commented about how the children’s art is some of the greatest artwork you will see. And Branford citizens have been admiring it for two weeks now.
Arabella Higgins of Arabella noted “people keep coming in the store to say how nice the artwork is and how nice it is to have the town involved.”
Her sister Jennifer Indeck further explained, “The whole purpose of the Branford Town Merchants is to create community. We want people to come to town.”
So how did this all happen? It was the design of the. If you are not familiar with them, you will be soon. They are a group of Branford citizens whose goal it to ensure that all Branford children, birth through age eight years, are happy, healthy, safe and successful, with a love of learning in school and in life. They are dedicated to making sure all Branford children enter school prepared to learn, regardless of background.
For example, the transition between pre-school or day care and kindergarten can be very stressful for many children. The BECC is aware of this and has found ways to make children more comfortable and less stressed even on their first day of school.
Leslie Peters, who works at the Linda B. Chipkin, Early Years Center is on the education sub-committee. She has worked on several projects that have now been implemented in making transitions easier. For example, a form was created for all preschools and daycares to complete before kindergarten begins. This form gives teachers knowledge about social skills, literacy skills, fine motor skills and numeracy skills. This allows teachers to get to know their new kindergarten students even before they get off the bus in September. A book has also been created that travels to all the pre-schools and daycares starring all Branford kindergarten teachers. Information about the teachers such as the schools they work at, favorite color, favorite animal and of course a picture are included. Another book features school-like words and a detailed description of what they are or mean. For example, field day, report card, fire alarm, bathroom pass. These words are new to kindergartners but having been introduced to them ahead of time, they are able to focus on their daily lessons in kindergarten and not what fearful new thing might be introduced next.
There are a total of four subcommittees on the BECC: Happiness chaired by Dale Izzo and David Squires, Safety chaired by Sue Wharfe, Education chaired by Megan St. Pierre, and Health chaired by Barbara Naclerio and Gina Lee. The BECC itself is co-chaired by Judy Doyle and Kate Marsland. The BECC is funded by the Discovery 2010 Project and the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund as well as $10,000 from the state. The William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund is a two year grant of $50,000 which allows the BECC to identify the needs of its youngest citizens and to develop a comprehensive plan. Those needs are to be identified by the people of Branford. Please help their cause by filling out a survey online; to host a focus group, attend a meeting or join a committee e-mail Branford.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next on tap for the BECC is Take a Step Day on April 26 at the Branford Recreation Center.