Perched on a tall chair in her floral-print Hawaiian dress, Vida Reimel looks down and smiles at her friends. Her feet bounce in the air as she begins to belt out "The Star-Spangled Banner." Sure, some of the words get mixed up, and "rockets" sounds like "rompoms," but for a 4-year-old, she pretty much nails it.
After the song, she hops down and scurries over to the snack table, hoping to grab one of the few remaining Rice Krispie treats.
"My favorite part is when I get to sing my own song," Vida said, smiling.
Vida was one of several children at Growing Roses Family Child Care in Abingdon recently rehearsing for the annual Family Day, at which she and her friends will perform for parents and grandparents.
Growing Roses has been in operation for 11 years and has held the event in May for the past 10 years. Rose Hinch, who runs the program, said Family Day has become a much-anticipated event for the children she cares for and their families, with relatives from as far away as Florida coming to see the children perform.
"There's never really a time to get all of the kids together, so it's very rewarding for the parents to see them all together," Hinch said.
This year's show, scheduled for Friday, will feature a Hawaiian theme, a nod to the children's fondness for the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. The room is decorated with multicolored streamers and an inflatable palm tree, and the kids will don floral Hawaiian-style clothes.
The children will open the show by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing some patriotic songs. During the hourlong presentation, each child gets to sing a solo as well as a few with the group.
Parents are getting into the act, too, by helping with preparations.
Hinch, who used to work in hotel management, said that when she began looking at day care centers for her son, she was so disappointed with what she found that she decided to go back to school to become certified in child care.
"There was no structure to other day cares. The kids were just running around wildly," Hinch said. "I thought, 'What could I do to make this better?'"
Emily Hogan, 14, has been connected with Growing Roses since she was 3. She used to be in the program, and now she comes in during her free time to help Hinch. Her experience at Growing Roses has played a part in her plan to become a pediatrician.
"It's very fun here, and I've learned a lot about taking care of kids," she said.
Hinch helps prepare the children for kindergarten with writing lessons and small homework assignments each day, but it's not all work. Hinch also takes the kids on field trips to the zoo and the pumpkin patch in the fall.
After Hinch teaches the kids to sing and dance together, it's easier to forget that they are just children. But a subtle reminder occurs as the show ends, as the kids run outside, screaming loudly for their favorite part of the program: play time.