2020 has been a strange year for graduations. Many students completing an educational milestone – be it college, kindergarten, high school, junior high, etc. – have had to put all celebrations on hold due to the pandemic. As someone who enjoyed feeling the great sense of accomplishment every time I walked up to get my diploma, I can’t help but feel bad for all the students robbed of that opportunity.
But, some pre-kindergarten students in Brooklyn were given a pretty wonderful surprise when they each received a special delivery, courtesy of Tank the bulldog, a comfort dog who works with the special needs students of Brooklyn’s Daily Discovery Pre-K. Recently, this pooch got a new side gig assisting the teachers in delivering the young graduates’ diplomas. He’s been busy making home visits to all the students who’ve been at home since lockdown.
Jillian Conigliaro is a special education teacher at the pre-K as well as Tank’s owner. She shared that Tank was a vital part of the graduation process as he’s forged a close relationship with many of the students at the school. The special education teacher mentioned that Tank is the highlight of many of the students’ experience at school. That is why Conigliaro included the pup in the deliveries since all in-person ceremonies had to be canceled due to the pandemic. It was a way for the pair, along with the other teachers, to give the students a nice send-off before they start kindergarten in the fall.
Conigliaro said according to Spectrum News 1, “It’s emotional, because you know you want to run up and you want to hug the kids, and we want to do all the things we normally do, like have lunch with them and play with them and learn with them in school, but this is the next best thing.”
But seeing Tank was such a treat for many students like Savanna Moody. Her mother, Danielle Dimino, shared with Spectrum News 1 that she absolutely enjoyed seeing Tank. Dimino mentioned that Savanna is always going on about Tank. She was happy her daughter got a chance to say goodbye to him since the little girl loves the dog so much.
Savanna wasn’t the only one thrilled to see her favorite pup turn up with her diploma. Micaela Messina was another student who was excited when Tank showed up. In fact, the little girl was happily flinging treats his way when he turned up.
Besides diplomas and smiles, Tank was also responsible for helping to bring students their toys, books, and other personal effects that they might have left at school prior to lockdown. Tank and dropped off some graduation caps for the students to decorate themselves which they can then wear for an online graduation ceremony.
Conigliaro stated, “We want to celebrate the kids no matter what. We don’t get to celebrate them in person this year in a graduation at school but the next best thing is being able to see them in a graduation at their homes and seeing their little faces light up, even from behind a mask.”
When the official graduation takes place online, the students can count on sweet little Tank to be there, cheering them on as they take the next big steps to kindergarten.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.