Graduates assemble at the beginning of the preschool ceremony (not all are pictured) from left Sari Anne Muir, Mikayla Gooch, Joshua Stepien, Quintin Hoggan, Brynnley Meter, Aidan McLean, Zane Booth, Nathan Fisher, Logan Wilkerson and Harley Johnston. Photo by Marshall Smith

Even though an anonymous report forced Town Hall’s preschool to close on Thursday, May 24, a scheduled graduation for the students took place on Thursday, May 31. County Economic Development Agency staff worked through the weekend of May 25 to ensure the program’s reopening, according to EDA’s Bill Brown, who, along with county staff, was on hand for the May 31 ceremony.

County staff turned out in force to provide a festive celebration for the graduating toddlers — jumpees, music, graduation cake, barbeque, gifts and graduation certificates made for a memorable morning for attending families and friends of the graduates. Teacher Rebecca Odum addressed the young graduates turned out in cowboy and cowgirl finery, saying, “Thank you for all that you are and all you’ll be.”

Happy graduate Samantha Hoggan with her certificate and swag. Photo by Marshall Smith
On Tuesday, May 29 the state accepted EDA’s plan to reduce program hours to 12 or fewer each week and run the program in sessions that are each under 12 weeks in duration. With these parameters, no licensing is required under governing state code. The complaint filed with the state alleged the preschool had been operating without a required license.

This particular exemption applies only to programs run as part of a government agency recreation program. The Town Hall is operated under the aegis of Riverside County EDA.

“If the intent [of the complainant] was to disrupt the lives of these children and their parents, then they won for two days [the number of days the report forced closure]. But, at the end of the day, the community won,” Brown said about the closure.

Proud parents react to their children's graduation. Photo by Barbara Reese
According to a handbook given to parents at the graduation ceremony, the mission of the program, now called Adventures in Learning, is “to provide children the opportunity to learn, grow and interact with other children in a supervised setting that is both warm and nurturing.” The new session began on Monday, June 4, for children 3 to 5 years old. This is a fee-based program, with fees being slightly less than had been charged under the old program. Idyllwild County Recreation is also providing its free summer camp through its Mobile Activities Recreation Service (MARS) for children 7 to 13 and a Jr. MARS program for children 5 to 6. There will be many off-Hill recreational field trips offered throughout the summer.
The graduating preschool class and teachers. Photo by Barbara Reese