Fresno County's FRIENDS Program holds graduations for toddlers

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A group of toddlers got to wave goodbye to their favorite teachers one last time before the summer.

Organizers with the "Fresno Regional Infant Educators Nurturing Development and Services" organized a drive-thru graduation on Wednesday after they were forced to cancel last year's ceremony.

"Knowing that my grandson is going through this mini-graduation, it means a lot. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to him and his family," said one student's grandfather, Raul Varela.

About 35 families got a chance to pick up a completion certificate and cap along with a goodie bag and take pictures during the graduation.

The FRIENDS program of Fresno County Superintendent of Schools serves children up to 3 years old with special needs or who show significant developmental delay

Organizers decided to do a drive-thru ceremony after they were forced to cancel last year's event due to COVID.

"It's exciting to see them, the smiles on their faces and parents are excited and clapping and teachers are here to greet them," said FRIENDS principal Julie Reynolds.

For one little student named Mason, his favorite part of the drive-thru ceremony was getting his touchless picture taken while seeing all the balloons and waving to his teachers

"This pandemic has closed everything and we're still able to have a graduation and fulfill something for them instead of just being stuck at home," said Varela.

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