Then and now, preschool classmates reconnect with teachers

Then and now, preschool classmates reconnect with teachers
Front: Emily Butler, Max Klavon and Janie Lyon; back: Janie Metcalf, Olivia Schueth, Chrystian DeMonbreun and Maddy Cardozo

A few couldn’t make it, some couldn’t be located, but for the five young men and women who got together at the Klavon family’s Ortega Forest home July 8 it was a time to reconnect with each other and with their preschool teachers.

In 2006, 11 students – seven boys and four girls – graduated from the Ortega Playschool having learned initiative, persistence and problem-solving along with their ABCs and numbers, thanks to their preschool teachers, Janie Lyon and Janie Metcalf.

The casual reunion came about, in part, after Max Klavon’s mother, Pam, ran into Lyon in the Shoppes of Avondale and they talked about where those former five-year-old children were today.

Seated: Sullivan Heim, Corbin Lowe, Emily Butler, Katie Baker, Max Klavon and Ryan Holden; standing: Janie Metcalf, Olivia Schueth, Timothy Gnida, Brock Dennison, Chrystian DeMonbreun, Maddy Cardozo and Janie Lyon.

Seated: Sullivan Heim, Corbin Lowe, Emily Butler, Katie Baker, Max Klavon and Ryan Holden; standing: Janie Metcalf, Olivia Schueth, Timothy Gnida, Brock Dennison, Chrystian DeMonbreun, Maddy Cardozo and Janie Lyon.

Three of the girls, Olivia Schueth, Emily Butler and Maddy Cardozo, took dance at Village Dance until they were almost through middle school. Three of the boys, Max Klavon, Chrystian DeMunbreun and Corbin Lowe, are Boy Scouts with Troop 2 and will soon earn their Eagle Scout awards.

“The bonds we made will last a lifetime,” said Schueth, who will graduate from Bishop Kenny next spring, and hopes to attend Alabama State as a political science major. “The teachers were great; they taught us well.”

Cardozo and Butler echoed their classmate’s sentiments. “I’m amazed we all stayed together, but we had the greatest teachers,” said Butler, who, along with Lowe, will graduate from Bishop Snyder, and is looking at attending the University of Florida in marketing and advertising.

“Mrs. Lyon was one of the best teachers I ever had,” said Cardozo, who attends Stanton College Preparatory High School, as does Klavon. “She helped me become the person I am.” Cardozo hasn’t decided on a college yet but is considering business and finance, while Klavon said he will probably attend Florida State University for engineering and/or business.

After DeMunbreun left Ortega Playschool, he spent the next 12 years (kindergarten through his junior year) at St. Johns Country Day School, from which he will graduate next spring. He’s also looking at FSU as well as the University of South Florida, and hopes to major in psychology.

Lyon, who retired in 2011, said she actually believed it was the bond between the parents which fostered their children’s bonds. “The mothers would sit on a brick wall outside the classroom and chat,” said Lyon. “I called it the Friendship Wall.” 

The Ortega Playschool, which is located on the Ortega United Methodist Church campus, has been preparing young boys and girls for a successful transition into public or private schools since 1988. Gayle Runion has taken over as director after the retirement of Janie Burroughs.

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