SOUTHINGTON — Plantsville Community Nursery School held its 63rd graduation this week, the final ceremonies for the school, which is closing this year.
Parents and grandparents of children graduating from the 4-year-old class Wednesday said the school has been a great place for several generations of children.
“Plantsville was a community resource jewel,” said Patti Goldberg, a 17-year teacher at the school. “I’m sad to see it go.”
Her children attended as well.
“My first class is in their mid-20s. I still know a couple of them,” Goldberg said.
School Director Anne Graham said enrollment has declined over the past few decades and that revenue hasn’t been meeting expenses. Fewer parents are looking for a school that provides several hours of learning and socialization only in the morning.
“Mom and dad are both working,” she said. “They need more hours (of care) for their children.”
This year, the school had 24 students. The school saw a drop-off in enrollment several years ago when the public schools introduced all day kindergarten.
“More parents went to work after that,” Graham said.
Plantsville Community Nursery School started in 1955 after the Plantsville Congregational Church’s mothers club proposed it. School leaders still have the letter dating from the 1950s where women asked to use church facilities for the project and said they’d run it without subsidy from the church.
Graham said the school has operated that way since.
During its first year, tuition was $1 per day with a $2 registration fee.
By the 1970s, the school had about 140 students.
The school experimented with a five-day program in 1994 but few families signed up and it was discontinued, according to Debbie Boychuch, a former director. She and other staff said the school has had long-serving teachers, with only 29 over 63 years.
Graham, who was a teacher before becoming director, said the half-day work was perfect when raising her own children.
“I’d be able to get home by the time they got off the bus,” she said.
Erica Bovino, mother of Stella Sulzicki who graduated Wednesday, said she has memories of attending the nursery school as a child and loved it.
“My mom said I cried when she’d pick me up,” Bovino said. “I didn’t want to leave.”
She appreciated that the school’s toys included wooden blocks and other simple items that encouraged imagination. Teachers also encouraged play rather than focus only on readying children for academics.
“It’s one of the few schools that does that,” Bovino said.
Graham said church leaders are still considering what to do with the school’s space. The auditorium and classrooms are used for church functions.
On Wednesday, children received their diplomas and sang songs to the crowd of relatives and friends.
“Even though this is a sad day, it’s a happy day to celebrate your child,” Graham said.
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