Poster - Worship Slides

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Happy New Year everyone! I think we can all agree that we are happy to usher in a new year, though I just don’t know where the time goes. Like my mom always told me, the older you get, the faster time goes and the younger your parents seem!

A lot has happened since our last newsletter! The last time I wrote, we were looking forward to our Pumpkin Patch field trip. However, in 2020 fashion, we had to reschedule twice due to the fires and smoke, then to snow and freezing cold. But we improvised! At the last minute, Mrs. Long and I raced to the grocery stores to rescue the last pumpkins standing that weren’t frozen into mush, and we created our very own indoor pumpkin patch, complete with vines, fog and even the Charlie Brown crew of The Great Pumpkin. It was like the real thing. The kids (and staff) had a blast with this! Our pumpkin patch field trip will never be thwarted again due to the unexpected.

Since we couldn’t have our normal Thanksgiving Feast, we did a simple feast in the classroom with the kids, but we still baked our delicious pumpkin bread and each kiddo got to take a small loaf home to share. The kids were immensely proud of themselves with this!

Another big “first” for Open Arms was our virtual Christmas Program. Again, being unable to have our program as we normally do, we improvised. Thanks to Tom’s idea and big help, the program was recorded, and a link was sent to families where they could watch it and even share it with others who don’t live in Colorado. The bonus was that the kiddos also got to watch themselves on “tv”. The parents absolutely loved this and were so grateful that we still managed to find a way for the kiddos to have their program and make those great memories.

We had our traditional Polar Express Party on the last day before the break, complete with pajamas, the runaway Gingerbread Man, hot chocolate, popcorn and the movie Frosty the Snowman. This is such a fun way to send the kids home for Christmas break.

Now that we have entered January, we are learning about everything winter, the polar regions and the animals that reside there, migration, hibernation and community helpers. We even have a “coffee/hot cocoa shop” in our classroom to warm up the cold days. Since we can’t really do field trips, I occasionally bring my husband’s projector to school so we can watch short educational videos and even take “virtual field trips” in the classroom instead. Since we seldom use technology in the classroom, this is a treat for the kiddos.

The big news of January is that we are finally getting our rating done for Colorado Shines! This has taken a few years of preparation and required a lot of work outside of normal classroom and preschool hours. Due to COVID, we got pushed back along with many other programs who were due to be rated last spring. Since COVID is still lingering, the rating process is being done virtually now. I created and sent in multiple videos for the raters to review, and now we are beginning the evidence piece that shows exactly what we do here at Open Arms daily. We still have a lot of work to do this month, so February will bring a big day of celebration!

We are also entering into the enrollment window for fall of 2021, so if you know of anyone looking for preschool, let them know about us! Enrollment is now open for current families and church members and will open to the public the last week of January. The Preschool Fair that we usually attend in January is also virtual, so we will participate in that as yet another “first” due to covid.

Finally, a great piece of ironic news I’d like to share is we’ve had (knock on wood) much less illness this year across the board than in past years! We’ve only had very minor little sniffles, and parents are being extra cautious not to bring their kiddos to school if they don’t feel right or have even a minor sign of a cold. This, accompanied by our handwashing sinks and extra cleaning protocols, have given us the healthiest year ever for both students and staff. We meet with our Child Care Health Consultant monthly and communicate any time we have a question, so that helps us navigate the ever-changing regulations. We are so happy and blessed to bring preschool normalcy to these kiddos, and the parents tell us how grateful they are quite often. This is heartwarming for us!

Despite the craziness we’ve all watched unfold this past year, we have found the silver lining and new ways of doing things. Some things we will keep, and others we will happily say goodbye to. “Adapt and overcome,” as they say. We’ve definitely done that!

All of us at Open Arms wish you a blessed, safe, and healthy new year in 2021!

Kandy Wise is the Director of Open Arms Preschool, a ministry of Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You may reach her at 482-1357 or with any questions about the Preschool.