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First Class Pre-K draw date nears

By Leigh Anne Butler

Tallassee Elementary School’s First Class Pre-K program is accepting online applications for the 2023-24 school year through March 5. Enrollment is open to all children four years of age on or before Sept. 1.

First Class Pre-K is a state program that is funded through the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. There is no registration fee and no child will be denied participation on basis of income, sex, race, color national origin or disability. Tallassee City School’s Pre-K program does have zoning requirements that determine eligibility for attending the program in the school district. There are two Tallassee Elementary First Class Pre-K classes that consist of 18 students each.

Online registration must be completed at by the end of the day on March 5. A random drawing of all eligible applicants will take place on March 15.

“We literally draw names from a bucket until we get 18 students for each class,” Wendy Cowan, Federal Programs Coordinator for Tallassee City Schools, explained. “Then we start a waiting list.” 

The random drawing will take place virtually at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, March 15. A link to the virtual drawing will be emailed to the parent/guardian of all registered students who meet the age and enrollment requirements.

Hillary Eckstein, Tallassee Elementary School Pre-K teacher added, “Our school year in the Pre-K program begins with helping the kids understand what it means to be in a school setting. We have children who have been in daycare but we also have children who have never been in any type of structured setting. It is our job to get them ready for school and help them understand how school works, get them in a routine and get them use to a school atmosphere in a developmentally appropriate way.”

“I think the structure of this program is very important,” Cowan further emphasized.“In kindergarten you are coming in ready to learn on the first day of school. This program gives these children an advantage because they’ve already learned the routines, where things are located in the building and how to get along with others.”

Courtney Branch, who was a reading coach prior to being one of Tallassee Elementary School’s Pre-K teachers told of how the program helps the children with reading skills. “We work on writing their name, the alphabet, sight words, color words, rhyming words, counting how many words are in a sentence, what letters words begin with. All things which help them become better readers.”

Children who are eligible for kindergarten are not eligible for Pre-K. Enrollees must provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and two proofs of residence (current utility bill and a copy of a lease or mortgage). Upon enrollment, a child’s immunization record must be provided to the school or program. If you have questions regarding eligibility or attendance zone information, contact Wendy Cowan at (334) 283-5675 or by email at