A mix of emotions for parents, students on 1st day of school

By Bryan Richardson

Natalie Archuleta’s kindergarten class at Bluemont Elementary sat quietly on the carpet as she read … or as she said, “crisscross applesauce with your legs, spoons in your bowls and voices turned off.”

Archuleta read “The Kissing Hand,” a story about a raccoon’s first day of school. Afterward, the class members told her some of their first-day feelings: “sad,” “shy,” “scared,” “different,” “happy” and “excited.”

Wednesday was the first day of classes for USD 383 schools, a special day for the 562 students starting kindergarten. They’re still at the age where their backpacks are almost as big as they are, some reaching the kids’ heads if they sit down.

For the first day, parents got to stay with their children for about the first hour in the classroom. It’s hard to say whether it was more for the benefit of the children or the parents.

Natalie Torrey said her daughter, Clarissa, has been going to the early learning center at Hope Lutheran Church, so she’s acclimated to the school environment. “I think she’s more excited than I hoped,” she said. “She’s too excited to start school and grow up [rather] than stay in.”

Natalie’s husband, Caleb, said it’s kind of exciting to see Clarissa growing up.

They both reminded Clarissa of the activities she would be doing. “She’ll be able to learn more,” Caleb said. “That’s what she’s most excited about.”

Natalie said Clarissa’s number one activity is reading. Clarissa confirmed this. “I love to read,” she said.

Clarissa said she’s very excited about school and gave a long, drawn-out “goooood” when talking about how the day was going. “It’s going to be different,” she said. “We’re doing more activities.”

Shania Knippenberg said the first day was a little overwhelming for her and her son, Braxton. “I don’t know, it’s a big change for us,” she said. “I’m not sure if he’ll get to where he needs to go tomorrow without me walking with him, but it seems like a fun place.”

Shania said they’ve been talking about kindergarten, but Braxton began feeling overwhelmed when they went to orientation and saw a gym full of students. “He was excited until the past couple of days,” she said. “Now, he’s not quite sure.”

Dwayne McFadden said he didn’t talk much with his son, Noah, about kindergarten. “I told him he’s going to meet new friends and go to a bigger school than preschool,” he said. “Other than that, not much to talk about.”

“He always wanted to go to the same school as his brother,” he said. “They were actually ready before me.”

However, Noah said he started feeling shy once he arrived at school. “A lot of people are here,” he said.

That changed when he got to the classroom and found he fit in with a smaller group around him.

With the shyness gone, Noah began thinking about recess. “I’m excited about getting to play outside because our dad doesn’t really let us go to the park over here,” he said.

Noah said he didn’t talk much to his older brother about what to expect before the first day. “We didn’t have too much time,” he said. “I forgot which time we were coming to school.”

Like Noah, William Lin has an older sibling — his sister —  in the 2nd grade. “I told him finally he can go to the same school as his sister, so he was excited,” his mother, Vivian He, said.

While Noah was shy, William was the opposite. Archuleta talked to the class about the day’s schedule in class when she mentioned recess, a time when William knew his sister would be there.

“Then I get to see my sister!” he announced to the teacher, classmates and parents.

Vivian said there isn’t much of an adjustment needed for William. “He started his daycare when he was 1 year old,” Vivian said As the children left to go a school tour with Archuleta, their parents had to say goodbye and let them go through the rest of the school day.

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