MOORHEAD — For 50 years, the Early Education Center at Minnesota State University Moorhead has been providing care and teaching kids valuable skills through its preschool programs. The center is celebrating the milestone with a free, public birthday party at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25 in Lommen Hall rooms 76-84, 1213 Sixth Ave. S.

Tours and train rides will run from 10 to 11 a.m. with cake and a special Imagination Theater performance by Michael Gallo, who served on the staff for 15 years, to follow at 11:15 a.m. He will tell stories through "creative dramatics and puppetry", according to a press release about the event.

“We are excited to serve countless children over the years and be a valued part of the Moorhead-Fargo community," said Lacey Hoppe, director of MSUM’s Early Education Center.

The EEC serves children ages 16 months to 5 years old and is one of eight preschool programs in Fargo-Moorhead accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The center also serves MSUM practicum students as well as student teachers who are about to become early childhood educators.

Hoppe herself is a graduate of MSUM who worked in the center as a student teacher beginning in 2007, and she was hired as director in 2009. She appreciates that the center not only provides quality care for children but also helps students learn and observe in a real-life child care setting.

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To learn more about the center, visit mnstate.edu/childcare.