A chorus of buzzing sounds filled a room at the Head Start Center in Downtown Moneta last week.

“Let me hear you make a good bee sound,” said Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam to a group of young children as she prepared to read “Bee-wigged” by Cece Bell.

Northam’s visit to Moneta was one of several local stops she made as part of a “Back to School” tour on Aug. 29. The first lady also visited Rocky Mount Elementary School and Bedford Primary School.

Head Start is a free early education program that prepares preschool-aged students for kindergarten and entry into public schools. Lynchburg Community Action Group (Lyn-CAG) opened its Moneta Head Start Center last year.

According to Northam, “back to school” is more than acquiring a backpack or meeting new teachers.

“Preparing for school begins those first few critical years when most of the brain development occurs,” she said. “Fully 90 percent of the brain is developed before kids even get to kindergarten, and we believe that every child in Virginia is capable of and deserves to come to school ready to learn with all the skills and opportunities they need.”

Many children enter the school system unprepared for the coming challenges, said the Rev. William Coleman, Lyn-CAG president and CEO.

“So what we do is we want them ready for kindergarten,” he said.

One Head Start class currently is offered at the Moneta facility but there is room to expand for an additional class, Coleman said. An effort is also underway to offer before- and after-school childcare at the facility.

-For more information, see the September 4 edition of the Smith Mountain Eagle-

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