Cheerful Crickets face funding crisis, Fundraisers planned

NORTH CREEK - Cheerful Crickets Nursery School, operating out of Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek has been offering pre-kindergarten classes to surrounding communities since the mid-seventies and is faced with the threat of closure in the coming months.

The nursery school is approximately $4,000 short in their budget needed to finish out the 2009-2010 school year. The parent board for the Cheerful Crickets has turned to fundraising and hopes to raise the needed money themselves.

"This program is too important to not make it through the year," said Cricket parent Erwin Morris. "Serious fundraising seems like the most logical step to prevent closure."

At one time, Cheerful Crickets drew students from Minerva, Newcomb, Indian Lake and other local school districts. However, with the presence of pre-k programs in most of those schools now, numbers have shrank drastically at Cheerful Crickets.

Two years ago, both the three and four year old programs at Cheerful Crickets enrolled around 24 students. Today, there are only six students enrolled in each class.

With smaller numbers of students came the inevitable drop in tuition money that was generated each year and the possible need to raise tuition.

"Enrollment is down across the board and tuition just isn't covering the costs of running the program anymore," said Cheerful Crickets teacher Heather Olesheski.

Cheerful Crickets employs one full-time teacher and an assistant. Olesheski is assisted by her sister Ashleigh Ross. Both are local Johnsburg Central School graduates and are in their first year with the Crickets.

"Crickets is a tradition," said Olesheski. "Many of my students have parents who were part of the program."

Not only would the loss of the Crickets leave a hole in the community, it would also be detrimental to the local education system, according to Olesheski.

"Pre-k is an important step in a child's education," she said. "The state requires more and more in Kindergarten and without this preparation, those teachers are always playing catch-up."

The Cheerful Crickets will host an all-day coin drop on Feb. 13 at the four corners in North Creek as their first fundraiser. They will also hold a bake-sale at the Ski Bowl on Feb. 20. A 50/50 raffle will be drawn at that time and ticket are on sale now.

To purchase tickets or to receive more information on Cheerful Crickets Nursery School, contact board president Rachel DeGroat at 251-2202.

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