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Upper Valley Preschool Fair Helps Parents Make a Choice

For as much thought as parents devote to determining where their children will go to elementary and high school, selecting a preschool is another critical but often overlooked decision. Finding a place for a child who’s no longer an infant but not yet ready for kindergarten can be challenging, especially if you’re new in town, or don’t have the time to visit a number of preschools.

The annual Upper Valley Preschool Fair, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ray School in Hanover, is designed to streamline that process for area parents, giving them a chance to meet with representatives from 17 preschools to determine the best fit for their child. Being able to assess various options at once removes the time-consuming element of selecting which schools to visit, said Melissa Chen, a board member and parent at Toddler’s Morning Out in Hanover, which organizes the fair.

“It takes a couple hours out of your morning for each one. Are you going to sit through the 25 options you have here in the Upper Valley? Probably not,” she said. The fair is “a nice, quick way to assess a few schools, to meet face-to-face with the directors and know your child is going to be in great care.”

It’s also a chance for parents to explore the varied preschool choices that are available in the region, from traditional programs and cooperative preschools to those taught in the Montessori and Waldorf methods.

“A Montessori and a Waldorf are very different schools … Everybody operates somewhat differently to wildly differently, and it has to be a good fit for this youngster,” Chen said. Other parents want their child to have exposure to activities they haven’t experienced at home, Chen added. A parent who isn’t inclined toward arts and crafts “might look at a program that offers those things they can’t offer at home.”

Held each January, the Upper Valley Preschool Fair is now in its 13th year. It was first held to expose parents at Toddler’s Morning Out, which teaches children ages 18 months to three years, to what preschool options existed.

“I think it was just a way to bring the community together,” said Cindia Randall of Norwich, who worked at Toddler’s Morning Out for 21 years. “There were so many (preschools) in the Upper Valley to chooose from, that they needed more information.”

Parents, Randall added, “just want the best for their kids and they’re always searching for that better option.”

The free Upper Valley Preschool Fair will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Ray School in Hanover.

Events

Lebanon High School will host a free presentation on bullying and cyberbulling prevention at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the school. The presentation will be led by John Halligan, a former Essex Junction, Vt., resident and the parent of Ryan Patrick Halligan, who committed suicide at age 13 in 2003 after being bullied by classmates.

∎ The 16th annual Ten Minute Play Festival at Thetford Academy will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 and 18 in the school’s Martha Jane Rich Theater. The production features nine plays written last spring by students in the school’s Writing for Stage and Screen class, and each production is directed and performed by Thetford students. Admission is $5.

Achievements

Hayden Dow, a senior at Lebanon High School, was named the school’s Student of the Month for December. Dow was recognized for a video he made about individuality and acceptance as part of his coursework at the Hartford Area Career and Technical Center, where he is a student in the design, illustration and media arts program. Dow is a drummer in the local band The Guys and plans to study filmmaking after high school.

∎ Tyler S. LaFreniere of Randolph received the Richard & Gina Weniger Memorial Endowed Scholarship from Clarkson University, where he is a junior studying aeronautical and mechanical engineering.

School Notes appears each Tuesday. Email announcements and school news to kbryan@vnews.com.