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Children's Librarians In Yonkers Disagree With Elwood Show Cancellation

Mary Beth Kendrick, a librarian at the Yonkers Riverfront Library.
Mary Beth Kendrick, a librarian at the Yonkers Riverfront Library. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Parents and educators across the nation are scratching their heads after a Long Island school reportedly canceled its traditional end-of-year kindergarten show — saying the children should focus on preparing for college and their careers.

“The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple,” reads a letter sent by the principal at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, Suffolk County, to parents last week. “We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers.”

In Yonkers, staff members at the Riverfront Library, which provides several hours of children's programming a week for Westchester's largest city, were taken aback by the idea.

"We're constantly putting on children's programming," said Ethel Petryzcka, head of the Children's Department. "We have a lot of groups from the community who get involved with our programming as well. We do programs for literacy, exercise, nutrition, we try to cover a wide range because we have a large population."

"I don't think they should be focusing kindergartners on college. Maybe when you get toward the young adult age, it makes sense to focus kids on college, but not now," she said.

Mary Beth Kendrick of Yonkers is another librarian at the Riverfront Library who was just getting finished hosting story time.

Kendrick, whose husband, Curtis Kendrick, is on the board of directors for Yonkers Partners in Education, said she didn't believe kindergarten-age children should be focusing on college or careers, and that a show would be more beneficial to the children.

"I don't believe they have any concept of what that is or what it means," she said. "Kids that age learn a lot through play and interaction. The fact that, then, they would get to put that all together and have this beautiful show where they all feel good about it is the perfect way to end the year."

"It sounds like they're trying to teach in a very narrow kind of way," she said.

What do you think, Yonkers? Should kindergartners be focusing more on college and their careers? How young should children start being primed for the professional world? Join the conversation below.


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