Calhoun County political and education leaders joined the media in getting a first hand look at the state's expanded pre-K program.
In an event planned by the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, state lawmakers joined the principal of Jacksonville's Kitty Stone Elementary in cutting the ribbon on a new set of classrooms at the school, for children in the four year old range.
Children were seen working with letters of the alphabet and in one classroom, paint, as everyone looked on.
"The kids here in our community had the opportunity to put their name in a lottery, and if they were selected, they had the opportunity to participate in high quality pre-K program," said Kitty Stone principal Christy Hamilton.
"Those kids that participate in high-quality programs like ours here, are more likely to go on to be successful, they're less likely to drop out of school, less likely to be referred for special education services," she added, and said the children are in for a "wonderful school career."
Children were seen hugging Hamilton when she walked into one classroom, and asked Fox6 videojournalist Dixon Hayes a number of questions about his camera.
The funding for the program comes from the state, as a result of growth in the Education Trust Fund and lawmakers applying it specifically to this program.
Among the Calhoun County legislators on hand, was state senator, and senate president pro-tem, Del Marsh.
"We want to make Alabama a top ten state in education. That is going to be the goal. And to do that, you have to have such as this to get you there," Marsh told the crowd.
The expansion also brings in new children to the Piedmont Pre-K program, and the Hobson City and Norwood (in Anniston) Head Start locations. The Alabama School Readiness Alliance plans nine more of these ribbon-cuttings across the state, with Thursday's event in Jacksonville, the first.
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