ELMONT, N.Y. – The Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA) celebrated the Anna House Class of 2022 graduation on Tuesday, June 21 with 12 students from its early childhood education program for the children of backstretch workers based at Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga Race Course.
Students received their diplomas on a bright, sunny afternoon in front of Anna House inside Gate 6 on the Belmont Park backstretch. The children sang songs and told the audience “What They Want to Be” when they grow up. Some said they want to be police officers, firefighters and bakers; others dreamed of becoming a doctor, an astronaut and an ice skater.
The ceremony, attended by New York state and local elected officials and community leaders, marked the completion of the children’s year-round pre-K program, where they were taught English, math, reading, gardening, art, nutrition and other topics in a STEAM-based curriculum. The students are now prepared to enter Kindergarten in September in local public schools, with many set to continue in BCCA’s school-age program where they’ll receive tutoring and enrichment activities outside their public-school classrooms.
“This is always such a big day for our children and for our families and it’s one that we all look forward to each year,” said BCCA President Libby Imperio. “To celebrate their accomplishments and to see how proud they are is a credit to them and to their families as we all work together to prioritize the importance of education.”
“‘Change the first five years of a child’s life and you change everything’ is a motto we stand by as we are changing lives at the racetrack every day,” said BCCA Executive Director Joanne K. Adams, who oversees the operation of BCCA and works in partnership with Bright Horizons to oversee the programs at Anna House.
This year’s graduation was especially memorable, Adams noted, because it celebrates the 20th anniversary of Anna House. During the event, the children presented handmade “thank you” gifts to BCCA Founder and Chairman Michael Dubb, Imperio and the BCCA Team. They also gave a special painting to Dubb to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
BCCA was established in 1998, with Anna House as the centerpiece of its commitment to the New York backstretch community, opening its doors in 2002. Dubb, a Long Island-based builder and a New York Racing Association (NYRA) Board member, constructed Anna House and its sister facility, Faith’s House at Saratoga Race Course, which opened last year. Imperio joined the Board of Directors 13 years ago and has served as President for eight years, always working tirelessly to advocate for those who need support.
“Every year at graduation, I tear up at the endless possibilities in life that await our graduates,” said Imperio. “Anna House continues to provide the American dream to our children and their families.”
For Dubb, “seeing how these children enjoy their educational experience – and their faces and expressions – there are no words to describe it.”
“I’ve said many times that Anna House is the happiest place at Belmont Park because it’s where children can thrive,” Dubb said. “Seeing how Anna House educates and nurtures them is inspiring.”
In his remarks during the ceremony, Dubb mentioned that as a builder, the importance of a foundation is key – and the same holds true for a child’s education. At the very moment he said that, one child turned to another and asked, ‘He built Anna House?’ and the other replied ‘Yes! Don’t you know that’s Michael Dubb?’”
Anna House has educated more than 1,000 students since opening its doors. Children who attend Anna House are taught by two certified teachers in each classroom, using the Teaching Strategies Gold method of measuring success.
NYRA Press Office