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Winning the lottery: Parents, students participate in Pre-K drawing at Maxwell Elementary

The pre-k lottery drawing for McDuffie County was held at Maxwell Elementary School on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Approximately 30 parents attended the event, held in the school cafeteria, to hear if their child would be attending pre-kindergarten at the school.

"It is a compliment to our school system for so many people to be here today," Maxwell Principal Mychele Rhodes said. "It shows they are interested in their children's education. And we have a great school for that initial start."

Dr. Rhodes said there were 77 completed, and five incomplete registration forms turned in by the Feb. 16 deadline for the 72 available slots. The five incomplete forms were not placed in the pool.

Dr. Rhodes said notification letters were sent out Thursday to all applicants, telling their place on the acceptance list or waiting list. She said the waiting list "is always used."

"I really do wish I could take all of your children," Dr. Rhodes said to the parents. "I just feel so bad not being able to do that."

The school board approved the lottery drawing for placement of pre-k students in 2005, after there were issues with parents standing in long lines for hours to receive a slot that was awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

As each name was drawn, it was written on a large chart on the wall for all to see that the slots were filled appropriately. Parents raised their arms victoriously amidst applause and hugs with family members as their child's name was called out.

"I am so relieved," said Peggy Corbitt, after her son's name, Carter, and his best friend's name, Ben Cushman, was called. "They are best friends, and they have been split up the past few months, so we were hoping they would get back together."

Maxwell Elementary had 80 slots because it is inheriting the primary grades from Thomson Elementary next year. The first eight slots were predesignated by the Board of Education for children of Maxwell's staff members and for special needs students. After the 72 open slots were filled, the remaining names, including those of the incomplete registration forms, were drawn to establish their order on the waiting list and posted on the wall chart.

According to Federal Programs Director Beth Newton, the pre-k program is not a watered-down kindergarten program, but readies the children for school by teaching them social and communication skills, and fosters their desire to learn by introducing educational concepts.

The state funds 40 pre-kindergarten slots at each school. The overflow students may attend state-funded pre-k at a participating childcare center. Dr. Newton said the state-funded pre-k programs in childcare centers use the same curriculums the state offers the elementary schools.

Due to the new reorganization of schools next year, Maxwell Elementary and Dearing Elementary are the only McDuffie County schools with pre-k.

Mona Hudson, the secretary at Dearing Elementary, said they had 31 students enrolled for their 40 slots, so a drawing was not needed. Students must be registered at the school for which they are zoned.

Where to Register

Maxwell Elementary School (additional students registered at MES will be added to the waiting list), 520 Mt. Pleasant Road, Thomson. 706-868-4800.

Dearing Elementary School, 500 N. Main Street, Dearing. 706-868-4900.

Little Lamb Learning Center, 163 Viola Avery Street, Thomson. 706-535-5888.

Little Rascals Childcare, 510 Main Street, Thomson. 706-595-7848.

Owls Child Care Center, 101 Pecan Avenue, Thomson. 706-595-6129.

Wee Tots Learning Center, 166 Honey Hold Road, Thomson. 706-597-8855.

Grandma's Angels Christian Learning Center, 400 E. Hill Street, Thomson. 706-595-6550.

Required to Register

Child must be four years old by September 1, 2007.

Social Security number/card

Proof of residency

Birth certificate

Georgia Certificate of Immunization

Georgia Certificate of Ear, Eye and Dental Exam

Web posted on Thursday, March 01, 2007

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