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Head Start celebrates half a century of academic success
Head Start
Crowell Elementary School Head Start kids and their families celebrate 50 years of preparing students of low-income families for kindergarten and beyond with a party at Donnelly Park on Friday. - photo by ALYSSON AREDAS / The Journal



Crowell Elementary School's Head Start Program has not only prevailed through recent budget cuts, it has thrived. According to coordinator of Turlock Unified School District Early Education Programs Judy Huerta, whatever funding they lost due to budget cuts, they have gotten back in recent years.

“We’ve received additional funding that has allowed us to add more slots for Head Start and open new classrooms,” reported Huerta.

On Friday, Head Start celebrated its 50th anniversary at Donnelly Park with a variety of educational and social activities for children. Joined by community organizations, including the Turlock Fire Department and Johnny Big Ears, the event celebrated the program’s underlying success of preparing children for their academic futures.

Designed primarily for low-income families in the community, Head Start is operated by TUSD and licensed by the California Department of Social Services. The program offers both morning and afternoon preschool classes to meet the needs of families and those with special needs.

“I really love my job. We teach children varying themes through play and they are always interested to come to school every day,” said Head Start teacher Maria Marques. “We also love to incorporate the parents in the learning process.”

The program encourages parents to participate in the classroom with an open door policy, allowing parents to volunteer in the classroom. According to Huerta, the parents play a huge role in the program and are always asking to help out with various activities.

Parent Oscar Flores is known to volunteer in the classroom frequently, helping the children with breakfast, cleaning, and even reading to them on occasion. Flores believes that the program is a good beginning for kids in the community.

“It teaches them how to behave and how to get along with other kids,” said Flores. “It teaches them numbers and shapes, discipline, and manners.”

With over 200 Head Start students and four classrooms, the program hopes to celebrate many more years by continuing to build the academic foundations of every student.

 “I’m very proud to work with the district to represent this program,” said Huerta. “We are giving these kids a head start on how to base their education.”

For more information on Head Start, call 632-2857.