White shirts, clip-on ties, creased pants and shiny shoes marked the small six-year-olds as they crossed the threshold of their familiar cafeteria doors. These were the doors they had walked through for the past 180 days. These were doors they crossed three times a day – breakfast, lunch, and dismissal – which means they had entered through these doors at least 540 times in the last year. But today was different. Today, they walked with a little more pep. Today, they walked with a little more pride. Today, they walked with the swagger of Kindergarten graduates. These 84 Prepsters were entering their kindergarten promotion ceremony as a celebration of a year well spent at Cornerstone Prep School –Lester Campus with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 proud family members.
As they entered the cafeteria they saw their parents waving at them, calling their names for the camera. Moms, dads, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, brothers and sisters all there to celebrate the closing of what was their first year in elementary school. “We believe that a child’s educational foundation begins the moment they set food in a building,” said Lisa Settle, principal and co-founder of Cornerstone Prep. She was referencing the school’s motto: “College Prep begins in kindergarten.” “For most children, kindergarten is the first time they have been in an elementary school setting,” Settle said. “We want our Prepsters to know from day one what they are preparing for in their futures.”
Cornerstone Prep had three Kindergarten classes in its inaugural year at the Lester Elementary Campus: Cornell K, Harvard K, and Princeton K. “We chose to have a kindergarten promotion so that we can honor and preserve traditions that already existed in the Binghampton community,” Settle said. “We also chose to celebrate our Prepsters and their achievements this year.”
Honoring traditions of the community is something about which Jacque Rowe Fields, director of family and community relations feels strongly. “Our vision is to be thoroughly connected with the Binghampton community,” Fields said. “(I want) Cornerstone Prep to be seen as the neighborhood school in Binghampton — a place that’s found a great balance between honoring the traditions in the neighborhood and starting some new ones.”
“Our Kindergarten class is Awesome this year,” Settle said. “They learned a lot and grew a lot —– more than an entire grade level in reading and more than 80 percent of the nation in math according to the NWEA assessment. They wowed us and astounded us this year. They did a great job as the inaugural kindergarten class of Cornerstone Prep – Lester Campus.” Settle added, “We had a great year this year. I’m really looking forward to next year and watching our Prepsters grow.” Beyond celebrating the promotion of Kindergarteners to first grade, Prepsters with achievements in academic and character growth were also recognized with awards.