As one year's worth of students wrap up their educational journey, another one is now ready to jump into kindergarten to fill the void.

Director of the Portage Ukrainian Nursery School Lori Carpenter says it's been bittersweet to say goodbye to the children, as she's spent the past year getting to know them. She's also, however, excited to meet the new children that she'll be looking after going forward.

She goes into detail on how the year went with the gradual decrease of COVID-19 restrictions.

"We did a lot to keep open because we wanted to be here for children and their families," explains Carpenter. "We started the year still doing a lot of the cleaning and the sorting and things like that and we were pretty vigilant about making sure and families were really good about keeping their kids home if they weren't feeling well."

She adds all the adults decided to keep wearing masks after the mandate was lifted, as they agreed that it would be in the best interests of the children. Carpenter mentions that, even though the little ones weren't able to see the entire face, she feels like they still knew they were loved.

"I'm just feeling truly grateful for for the job that I have and I'm looking forward to next fall too with our new little ones that are coming," says Carpenter. "It's very joyful."

She notes everyone at the nursery is extremely excited to see the new group come in and start making friends.