Graduating in style

A Little Foxxes Daycare Center graduate waves goodbye from the limousine.

CAITLIN HEALY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 2:52 p.m.

Although the 2010 graduates of Little Foxxes Daycare in the Porters community were the first class to graduate last Friday without receiving a congratulatory handshake from the founder of the day care, they still graduated in style.

After the graduation ceremony, along with Lyn Rivers, who recently retired as director of the day care after 30 years, the graduates excitedly climbed into a shiny black stretch Hummer limo for a ride to BJs Restaurant & Brewhouse for a congratulatory dinner. The limo and the dinner were provided by the parents.

Both Rivers, who seemed more shocked than the children, and the graduates were surprised to see the limousine parked outside Shady Grove Primitive Baptist Church in Porters, where the ceremony was held. The day care center is across the street from the church.

Rivers is the granddaughter of Lois Foxx, who founded the day care in September 1972 at the age of 62, using money from her first Social Security check. Foxx died in early May at the age of 99. Despite the death of Foxx and the retirement of Rivers, Foxx family members said the day care will be around for years to come.

"We are going to keep her legacy going," Mae Thomas, one of Foxx's daughters, told the audience.

Rivers presided over the graduation ceremony, and after the graduates marched in, she asked the packed audience to pause for a moment of silence in honor of Foxx.

Rivers became emotional later in the ceremony when it was time to hand out diplomas.

She placed a chair next to where she was standing in the front of the church and said it was where her grandmother would sit during graduation ceremonies to shake the "children's hands as they accepted their diplomas."

The ceremony began with the graduates - the boys in blue caps and gowns with white sashes and the girls in white caps and gowns with blue sashes - marching down the aisle with bright smiles as cameras flashed.

The graduates are Joshua Asante, Trinity Britt, Kendall Brown, Vincent Brown Jr., Alexia Coulombe, Aleah Evans, Adrianna Holmes, Malai Howell, Tavores Ivey Jr., Danasia Jenkins, Mikale McNish, Darian Owens, Kristen Ivey and Shaniyah Williams.

The graduates provided the entertainment by singing several songs, including the opening song, "Father Abraham."

Recitals also were a part of the ceremony, with the boys reciting "Now Before" and the girls, "If You Want."

"If you want to be somebody, and if you want to be something, you better wake up and pay attention," the girls said in unison.

The boys also recited "Mr. President," a tribute to President Barack Obama.

Edwennia Britt, whose daughter, Trinity, graduated and the parent/activities coordinator at the day care, presented Rivers with a special presentation that included a slide show chronicling her years at the day care. The slide show ended with pictures of Foxx working at the day care.

Rivers made a few special presentations herself. She recognized Britt for her tireless efforts as the parent/activities coordinator by giving her a bouquet of flowers and a framed African artifact, local resident Charles Demps for volunteering to teach the children how to play chess and local resident and artist Alyne Harris for volunteering to teach the students about folk, landscape and other art forms.

As Demps walked up to get his gift from Rivers, the graduates called out, "Mr. Demps. Mr. Demps."

Demps said words can't describe what Little Foxxes Daycare means to the community.

"Kids come from all over Gainesville to attend Little Foxxes, and its graduates are spread out all over the world, some in hi-tech fields and some in other business fields," Demps said. "This is not a day care, this is an academic academy."

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