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Everything’s elegant at elephant party

Photos by Aaron Paden/Four-year-old preschooler Pierce Porter takes a cookie served by teacher Macie Bateman Friday during the elegant elephant party.

Photos by Aaron Paden/Four-year-old preschooler Pierce Porter takes a cookie served by teacher Macie Bateman Friday during the elegant elephant party.

It was an enjoyable day for an elegant bunch.

The 4-year-old girls and boys of Mamie Martin Elementary’s preschool program linked arms to attend the elegant elephant party to commemorate learning about the letter E.

Donning hats, ties, vests and gloves, the children sat down Friday with enormous grins on their faces. Teacher Macie Bateman served a platter of colorful cookies to eat, along with punch made with Kool-Aid and Sprite.

It was, in a word, exciting.

Alli Case and Preston Hickman link arms Friday as they and their fellow students prepare to attend the elegant elephant party.

Alli Case and Preston Hickman link arms Friday as they and their fellow students prepare to attend the elegant elephant party.

While the children ate, Bateman instructed them on etiquette like placing their napkins in their laps and some of the finer points of some other letters — minding their Ps and Qs.

All of this came at the suggestion of Frog Street, a state-approved preschool curriculum designed for educators to get children ready for kindergarten.

Mamie Martin Principal Rob McCreary said the students do activities each week related to what they’ve learned in class. When the letter H rolls around, McCreary said the class will enjoy a hat parade.

It’s a fun strategy that keeps the children interested and engaged in preschool.

“The kids love it,” McCreary said. “It’s a great curriculum.”

This year is a first for Mamie Martin as the only preschool in the county licensed by the Mississippi Department of Education. McCreary said the school had been operating a preschool for years, but it had been licensed as a daycare.

Now all of the teachers are licensed to teach preschool. One of the teachers has had previous preschool experience, and the others are experienced kindergarten teachers. It’s a group McCreary said is suited to preparing the kids for kindergarten.

“They do a good job,” he said. “They have a good viewpoint to get the kids what they need for kindergarten.”

Preschooler Eldiris Long takes a cookie served by teacher Macie Bateman during the elegant elephant party at Mamie Martin Elementary Friday.

Preschooler Eldiris Long takes a cookie served by teacher Macie Bateman during the elegant elephant party at Mamie Martin Elementary Friday.

Preschool is optional, but as standards rise, it can be an important part of a child’s education, he said. With the passing of the Literacy-based Promotion Act, often referred to as “third-grade gate”, students will be required to pass an assessment in third grade proving they can read at an appropriate reading level before moving on to the fourth grade.