Little Lukes Where They Are Now: Preschool to High School Story - Claudia


             Claudia started out at Little Lukes in 2003 at three years of age in the Pink Puppies classroom. Claudia’s parents, Julie and Brian Chetney knew that starting pre-school early was essential to being kindergarten ready, so for two whole years Claudia spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Little Lukes not only getting ready for kindergarten, but gaining life skills that have carried on into her teenage years.  


“Believe it or not, we were most interested the longer pre-school day for Claudia,” her parents noted. “Along with the energetic staff and variety of indoor and outdoor activities, having close to a full day really allowed for academic and social development,” continued her Mom, Julie. 


While making some lifelong friends back in Little Lukes, Claudia also learned compassion, empathy, and understanding for children of all abilities. “We didn’t realize the understanding Claudia had-- and acceptance of children with special needs until she went to elementary school and teacher after teacher would tell us of her willingness to help those in the classroom who were struggling.” It goes without saying that Claudia excelled from the very first day of kindergarten academically but, “it was her compassion and social skills that we have always attributed to Little Lukes and the inclusion environment,” said Julie. 


Today as a junior at Oswego High School, Claudia plays soccer, is a member of the Student Council, and the National Honor Society. She has been in the top 25 of her class every year since 7th grade, is taking multiple Honors classes, and has earned her Bronze and Silver Girl Scout awards. She is a member of the Oswego County Youth Court program, and is in her 6th year coaching for Oswego Youth Soccer Association. 


With her great compassion and understanding for children with special needs, Claudia is the founder and leader of the “Doing It Our Way” Soccer Program.  In its 7th year, Claudia hosts a 6 week clinic each Fall for children of all ages and abilities giving kids the opportunity to play and have fun with Soccer. With the help of her soccer teammates and coaches, the program has found great success and allows for kids to play soccer without worries of scoring, winning, losing, or rules; “it’s just about having fun with the soccer ball,” Claudia states. “It’s this program that she leads that takes us back to her days at Little Lukes where we know she learned the patience and empathy for all people,” her parents said. 


Claudia recalls fond memories at Little Lukes and is now to no surprise looking to study Education in college. “I have had so many teachers who have helped me become the person I am today and it goes all the way back to Little Lukes,” said Claudia.



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