A Memorable Moment: VOCEL’s Founding Class Graduates

After opening VOCEL’s doors just two years ago and spending many hours planning, teaching, nurturing and conversing, the hard work and commitment of VOCEL’s children, families and teachers has paid off. On Thursday, July 28th, VOCEL held its first ever preschool graduation. 


VOCEL Teachers Ms. Kinya and Mr. Jameel lead the class to the graduation ceremony venue.

Cheered on by friends and family, staff, supporters, and volunteers, our inaugural class of students marched into Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory Academy’s auditorium. Our eleven graduates, dressed in the most precious bright blue cap and gowns, happily celebrated the end of what seems like an era.

In the past two years, we have seen so much growth at VOCEL. Cognitively, children have made some pretty impressive gains. Closing our school year 94% of our students are on track with all developmental milestones. In a single year at VOCEL, children made more than 2 years of vocabulary growth. Knowing these numbers, the joy and pride that filled the room came with no surprise.

After Kelly Lambrinatos, Co-Founder and Executive Director of VOCEL, welcomed the guests and graduates, the VOCEL class gave a small presentation to their audience. Smiles, laughter, and even a few tears were seen throughout the crowd as voices sang, “I’ve learned more than I can say. Now it’s graduation day.”

Next, Jesse Ilhardt, VOCEL Co-Founder and Director of Program addressed our graduates, acknowledging how they have become curious explorers and sophisticated learners.

Ruth speaking

VOCEL Teacher Ms. Ruth presents diplomas and superlative awards to each student. VOCEL Teachers and Board Chair, Ms. Barbara Koren shook the hand of each graduate.

Finally, the time had arrived – the awarding of the preschool diplomas. Each child was called up and individually recognized. Graduates were presented with a diploma and all students received their own superlative award.

Reflecting on VOCEL’s accomplishments in the organization’s first few years, we are proud and excited to send our founding class off to the schools they have chosen to attend. Children have been accepted to high-ranking schools of all types across Chicago, including magnet, charter and private schools.

As we bid farewell, a favorite classroom phrase comes to mind: “From our hearts to your heart, we wish you well!”

Latrell and CJ

Two of the #VOCELkids relish their moment in the spotlight and smile for the camera.


Our blog is a gathering place for all things VOCEL. It's a window into our classroom, a resource for early education news, and a place to discover stories that showcase our teachers, our children and our families.