May 6, 2024

Contact: Sophie Grimes


On Sunday, May 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Rehm Park, children who will start kindergarten in Oak Park this fall and their families are invited to a fun, informative, space-themed event that celebrates and supports this exciting new step for children and their families. 

OAK PARK, IL May 6, 2024 – Community partners across Oak Park are eagerly counting down the days until Blast Off to Kindergarten, a community-wide event that celebrates and supports families preparing to start kindergarten in Oak Park. The event will take place on Sunday, May 19, in Oak Park’s Rehm Park, located at 1000 S. Scoville Ave., starting at 10 a.m. All children and families who will be starting kindergarten in any school in Oak Park this fall are invited to celebrate the journey into a new galaxy that is not so very far away: kindergarten! 

This will be Blast Off to Kindergarten’s second year. The event is made possible through a collective partnership across Oak Park Elementary School District 97, the Park District of Oak Park, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, the Village of Oak Park, and Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200. Blast Off to Kindergarten will feature early learning programs, after-school programs, parent-teacher organizations, District 97 staff and parent-teacher organizations (PTOs), school administrators and staff from local parochial and private Oak Park kindergarten programs. There will be games, community resources, and a ‘kindergarten portal’ for our future kindergarteners to pass through (with or without the accompaniment of their families) and “officially” enter the “kindergarten universe.” 

Blast Off to Kindergarten is meant to celebrate our little ones, and it also will help parents and caregivers connect to parent organizations and the “Solar System of Support” that will help jump-start a smooth transition to kindergarten for everyone involved. “Oak Park is at its very best when we all work together. Blast Off to Kindergarten is a perfect example of a productive and positive collaboration across organizations to connect with families at this exciting time of transition so they feel supported and confident for that first day of school,” said Vicki Scaman, Village President

“Oak Park has a long history of investing in early childhood, and Blast Off to Kindergarten is a shining example of our community’s commitment to supporting families and children at every stage of their educational journey,” District 97 Superintendent Ushma Shah said. “We are thrilled to welcome our incoming kindergarteners and their families, and we look forward to building strong connections that will support their success in kindergarten and beyond.”

In addition to providing a space for families to learn more about kindergarten, Blast Off to Kindergarten will celebrate the transition of our little ones from the “Early Learning Galaxy” into the “Kindergarten Galaxy.” “So much of a child’s development happens before kindergarten and there are so many people who have played a part in preparing our children for this special moment. We here at the Collaboration for Early Childhood are delighted to bring our community together to acknowledge and highlight how far our little ones have come in a super fun, positive way,” said Mary Reynolds, Executive Director of the Collaboration for Early Childhood

Families that arrive for Blast Off to Kindergarten at Rehm Park will be directed to first stop at the “Collaboration Space Station” to receive a map of the event along with an explorer card for the future kindergarteners to help them navigate this brave new world. “The Park District is thrilled to host Blast Off to Kindergarten for the second year in our park. Together with our community partners, we look forward to celebrating with some fun activities, including our new fun, foam experience,” says Jan Arnold, Executive Director of the Park District of Oak Park

Families are encouraged to visit all aspects of the event, including the “Galactic Foam Galaxy” provided by the Park District, the Oak Park Public Library’s Book Bike, and a thank-you postcard station where kids can decorate notes to their early learning programs that can be mailed in the “intergalactic mailbox.” Children, and families if they would like to accompany them, are then able to go through the kindergarten portal and explore the kindergarten galaxy, which includes District 97 staff, Oak Park kindergarten programs and parent teacher organizations. They can also take a “Planetary Photo” courtesy of Byline Bank. 

Before leaving the event, families are invited to return to the “Collaboration Space Station” to pick up a special souvenir. This event will take place weather permitting, so families who plan to come are encouraged to sign up to receive any weather-related updates. Families should be aware that photos and video will be taken at the event. 

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