A super start to a first day of kindergarten

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Kindergarteners settle in for their first day back at SECC.

By Ricki Barker

“Look, momma, Superman!” exclaimed one five-year-old this morning as he walked with his mother to the entrance of the Ezra Sparrow Early Childhood Learning Center for his first day as a kindergartener.

The young boy was describing the bright blue Superman-style ‘S’ on the t-shirts of the smiling teachers and staff who were there to greet students and parents this morning.

The familiar comic book hero immediately sparks a deluge of trivia in the five-year-old as he tries to impress the staff and his new teacher with his knowledge of the ‘Man of Steel.’

Some kids take to the transition easier than others, SECC Principal Janice Meredith notes.

As she speaks, a group of independent children leave the safety of their parent’s hand to eagerly embrace and high-five friends they have missed over the busy summer months.

Other children, who confidently dispatched of their parents at the doors of the school earlier, now found themselves confused. Their puzzled faces are scrunched in concentration as they scan the hallway for any familiarity. An SECC staff member, springs into action, taking the children’s hand and asking questions about what they remembered from open house.

A cry of triumph is heard in the distance as the student is guided towards her correct classroom.

Other children are a little more hesitant to leave the safety of their parent’s arms. They peek into classrooms around their teacher’s waists, watching for any signs of obvious danger and analyzing whether the first steps would be worth it.

Some parents are busy filming their children on their cell phones as they make wind their way through the halls. A mother clutches a younger sibling in one arm, as she documents her older son’s walk to his kindergarten classroom.

“Are you excited?” she asks as he shrugs at the camera, his Super Mario backpack sliding off his shoulder. His teacher greets him at the door by name and pauses to allow the mother one last picture before he joins his classmates. His mother waves with her cell phone still in her hand as he takes his seat.

His mother turns away from the classroom and is already on Facebook sharing her son’s first day of school with friends and family as she walks back to the school entrance.

As Meredith walks through the halls of the school, she acknowledges every person she passes. She offers words of encouragement to a Kindergarten teacher who is beginning her first year at SECC. She greets children by name and showers them with compliments on everything from good manners to new haircuts, backpacks and shoes. A kind reminder to not run in the halls slows down a group of eager students. The flashing red lights from one student’s shoes ceases for a moment.

“It has gone very smoothly today,” said Principal Meredith. “There hasn’t been a lot of crying. We’ve had a great day so far.”

A few parents dab their watery eyes as the doors of classrooms shut shortly after 8:15 a.m. and Meredith is there for them as well. Offering words of reassurance that their children are safely tucked away in the brightly lit colorful classrooms.

Meredith explains that the first day is always one of excitement and that by the end of the week, both students and parents will be comfortable with the new routine.

“We always have a few bumps on the first day, but some of the students have been here in pre-school so they are familiar with everything,” she says as a short bout of crying occurs in one of the classrooms.

“Sometimes it’s like a chain-reaction. Once one of the children starts sniffling, a few more will join in. “

Thankfully, a teacher swoops in to console the children who have now realized they will be without their parents for a few hours.

Meredith says the students usually cheer up in a couple of hours and sure enough the crying subsides as a game is mentioned and a brand new box of crayons are produced.

The teachers are bustling around their classrooms, organizing note cards, updating food allergy lists, and passing out coloring sheets in addition to tying wayward shoelaces, helping unload backpacks and wiping lipstick prints off of cheeks – a visual reminder of that last goodbye.

The morning excitement starts to settle as children swing their legs from their tiny chairs and concentrate on coloring. They are supposed to color a picture of themselves, write their name and their likes and dislikes. One inspired student has decided to give himself a very large beard, while another makes sure to include her pet in the picture with her. Introductions are being made at another table, as students attempt to pronounce each other’s names and a new partnership is born between two boys with similar faux-hawk haircuts. They are working on a secret handshake and are busy scouting for other recruits in their newly formed club.

The din of the morning dissipates and the school is suddenly quiet as Meredith makes her way back to the front office to collect her first attendance notes of the year.

Her shoes make a soft echo along the hallway and flashes of activity can be seen in the small rectangular windows of the classrooms she passes. Children can be seen forming lines or gathered in circles around their teachers on brightly colored carpets. Their wide eyes taking in every inch of the place they will spend most of their mornings in from now until June.

Back in the parking lot, a few teary-eyed parents are gently ushered out the entrance to the school and as they climb back into their vehicles a familiar Disney tune can be heard reminding them to “let it go.” A few more tears are shed as they begin the long journey of leaving their children behind for the first day of school.