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Kindergarten Boot Camp

Springfield preschool invites veteran kindergartners to explain what to expect at school.

Megan Gaydos paused from her lecture to engage the audience. "Does anybody have any questions?" she asked.

A few hands raised nervously from the crowd of nearly 20 students.

"Do we eat lunch with our friends?" asked a girl in pink sitting in the front row.

Megan knew the answer to that one.

"They call it snack," she said matter-of-factly. "But we did cafeteria practice, where we went into the lunchroom."

The word sparked some recognition in the audience.

"Hey, preschool has snacks," said a boy in a striped shirt.

Megan and Helga Bakke, both kindergartners at Orange Hunt Elementary in Springfield and members of Daily Scout Troop 6124, were the authorities in the room when they visited TOT Preschool in Springfield on Monday, May 23. The topic of their lecture — "What Kindergarten is Like."

"Usually we pick up books and we have someone who reads us a book everyday. We pick our own books," explained Helga to the captive audience.

"In PE class, we play sports and games, and we go to art class, and we make pictures and projects," said Megan.

It was the first year TOT, a ministry of Sydenstricker United Methodist Church, has offered the program. Both kindergartners spoke to four separate sections of the preschool's 4-year old classes.

"We're trying to make sure they're bridging, that they have an understanding of what kindergarten is like," said Shirley Edwards, director of the preschool. "I think it's more meaningful when it's coming from kids their age."

ALONG WITH answering questions, Megan and Helga displayed their picture journals, a record of their progress over their year in kindergarten.

"I liked learning about Abraham Lincoln. He was the 16th president," said Megan, who also displayed pictures of studies of the Pilgrims, and of a trip to Grandma's house.

"It might reinforce what they've learned. You don't realize what you've learned until you reflect back on it," said Rhonda Gaydos, assistant Daisy Scout troop leader and Megan's mother. "As an adult even, it can be hard to get up in front of people."

At first, the two girls displayed some nerves when speaking to their peers. But by the time they visited their second classroom of the day, they had hit their stride.

"Why do we go to kindergarten?" asked one girl.

"To learn about stuff," said Helga, who had a question of her own.

"Do you guys know what recess is?"

They were all over that one. Hands shot up all over the room.

"We run around and stuff, and go down the slide," said another boy. "It's outside."