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Kindergarten calls off concert to focus students on 'college, career' prep

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A Long Island elementary school canned its year-end kindergarten concert, citing a responsibility to prepare children for "college and career," drawing the ire of parents.

According to NBC New York, an eyebrow-raising letter was sent to parents Friday by educators at Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y., as a follow-up to a letter notifying parents of the concert cancellation. 

 Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. sparked an uproar with the cancellation of a kindergarten concert. (Harley Avenue Primary School) The April 10 and April 25 letters were published by CBS New York

"The reason for eliminating the kindergarten show is simple," the letter said, in part, the TV station reported. 

"We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, co-workers, and problem solvers," it said. 

According to NBC New York, the annual concert was scheduled for May 14-15 and will instead be replaced with a "Game Day."

In an initial letter, interim principal Ellen Best-Laimit said that bad weather resulted in a loss of time and consequently, educators believed that it would be in the best interests of students to use the remainder of the year "concentrating on preparing for first grade."

In a statement on the elementary school website, the district said it recognizes and appreciates parents' concerns, however, "we support the decision of our educators and believe it is important to recognize the rationale at work in this decision." 

Noting that the elementary school offers only half-day kindergarten, the statement continued: 

"Our educators believe that the traditional kindergarten performance requires multiple days away from classroom work for preparation and execution, and together with the lost instructional time this year due to poor weather, is not the best use of the limited time we have with our youngest learners." 

Kindergartener parent Ashley Weiner told NBC New York that she is a "little bit angry" over the axing of the annual show.

"Nowadays kids focus so much on one thing -- academics -- and not so much on being well-rounded and enjoying the little things in life as a kindergarten show," she said. 

"I think it's a disservice to the kids to take it away because everything they're saying they want them to learn, they learn from doing this," parent Tabitha Black told NBC New York.

"They learn how to be in front of people, they learn confidence, and they're so proud."

Amidst the uproar, Heather Ross told CBS New York that educators are "doing the best they can."

"They're being told all the time these ridiculous demands for five-year-olds," she said. petition initiated by a concerned parent to reinstate the show has received more than 3,000 signatures, at the time of writing. 

"I have started this petition because I am upset that a school tradition and milestone is being taken away from the kindergarteners of Harley Elementary," wrote Ninette Solis.

Comments beneath the petition include reflections from former students fondly remembering their own performances in the play.

"I still remember it, at age 26, as do a number of my peers. Indirectly, that feeling of accomplishment and pride has stuck with me since that day," wrote Elisa Guaqueta.

In an interview with PIX 11, six-year-old student John Fox said the cancellation is "unfair."

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