Tots graduate preschool with small, scholarly steps

By Erika Mahoney

June 13, 2013 Updated Jun 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM EST

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Receiving a diploma is always a big milestone in a person's life; the road to that moment starts with small steps.

On Thursday evening, 28 preschoolers graduated from the Jewish Community Center.

"This is graduation and that means you're going off to the kindergarten," graduate Nicholas Catarella said.

As the kids gathered in a colorful classroom to get ready to walk, some were bouncing off the walls with excitement -- or, perhaps because they're 4 years old and excitement runs naturally.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 parents and loved ones filled the auditorium, which was adorned with round tables covered in white table clothes, kids' pictures and confetti.

The mood was celebratory, but some parents admitted tears would be shed.

"It's actually a really sad occasion," parent Tyra Shofkorn said. "It means she's ending one chapter of her life and starting a whole new one."

This year's theme at the Jewish Community Center was "owls," because "preschool is a hoot."

Ava Curinga said she loves her preschool: "It's really fun because I got to play in the soft sand."

As the kids walked down the center aisle, and eventually one by one across the stage, cameras clicked and strobed.

Some tots couldn't help but put on their own little show, each quirky movement met by laughter.

It's moments that these that will stay ingrained in parents' memories, according to Shofkorn.

"Going off to kindergarten, as any parent knows, is a very emotional event,"

A new place, full of possibilities.

Catarella said he's looking forward to the step up.

"The painting, hole punching stuff, like paper hold punching. I think it's going to be very good."