K-Prep started as a small in-home daycare. The playroom for the daycare in the house was filled with toys for toddlers and preschool children. The carpet was a faded yellow, and the walls were painted white with yellow trim to match. It was decided that a handprint chair rail, made of the primary colors, would be a good accent for the room. Ann and Claire felt their hands were too large to make it look child-like. So, they asked a fellow early childhood educator, their friend Rachel, to come and lend her hands for decorating. She graciously agreed.
John, a parent, supporter, and amateur photographer thought the handprints were interesting. He took some pictures of them on the wall. A set of three – Red, Yellow, Blue – came out looking great in the photograph. John used the photo when creating a webpage for K-Prep. Another family that supported the center saw the photo on the website and assumed it was the logo. They sent the image off to a local company to get some items embroidered as a holiday gift for Ann and Claire. The logo of K-Prep with three handprints was born.
A few years after opening, K-Prep moved to its current location, at 3943 Columbia Avenue – although it only occupied about 800 square feet of the building. The handprint logo was used for a sign on the building and the three-color handprints were again painted on the wall, this time by Claire.
In 2009 K-Prep expanded again, taking over much of the building on Columbia Ave. After some construction, new signage, and a fresh coat of paint, Ann and Claire realized the handprints were missing. Claire’s hands never looked quite the right size, and Rachel had long since moved away to a new career and family. The decision was made that the hands needed to be painted by children. K-Prep is, after all, a place where children come first.
Four children were chosen to paint the handprints. They were the first four graduates of K-Prep, who had been involved with the center from opening day. Ann and Claire commonly referred to them as “The Fab Four.” They were each about 8 years old at this time, with perfect size hands for the task! Blue was given to the girl with bright blue eyes, Red to the boy who always chose the red crayon as a toddler, and Yellow to the twin girls who were both mellow and bright as the sun. During holiday vacation in 2010, the handprints were again painted on the walls. This time they were placed to greet families when they entered K-Prep.
At some point over the years the original in-home daycare room was painted over. But the handprints that were born along with K-Prep were important and needed to be saved. The section of wall where the original picture was taken was removed and the drywall was framed. This framed piece of history is currently hanging in the parent area of K-Prep. It serves as a fond memory of where K-Prep began and our focus for the future.
Childhood is about creating stories and creating memories. Those of us that get the privilege to be a part of a child’s story are lucky and blessed. We share our love with the children in a hope that they will grow to know love in the world and in themselves. But children give us the biggest gift of all, reminding adults that childhood is precious and fleeting. Children’s hands are small and strong. They will always remain in our minds and our hearts. At K-Prep, we are fortunate enough to also have their hands left on our walls.