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Hartselle Enquirer

First day of kindergarten

By Staff
Tears and smiles all part of school's opening day for the youngest students
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
It's 7:45 a.m. on the first day of school in Hartselle and cars are parked on the green grass in front of F.E. Burleson Elementary. Parents and grandparents linger with cameras in hand after having delivered a most precious package to the campus–their kindergarten student.
The five and six year olds have already been escorted to one of four kindergarten classes along the "Kindergarten Kingdom" hallway, taught by Laurie Lang, Jan T. Brewer, Beverly Waldrop and Sandra Jones.
"All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"
In Mrs. Lang's class, kindergarten students begin their very first day of school by sitting quietly at small tables and exploring a box of building blocks the teacher has given them.
Mrs. Lang explains where things are in the classroom, why she takes roll and collects lunch money, how and why to raise your hand, and why it's impolite to talk when someone else is talking.
Kevin, who already knows how to raise his hand, has a question for Mrs. Lang.
"When do we get to do all the fun stuff?"
Mrs. Lang tells the class she has several fun things in store for them today, including a special first-day-of-school surprise.
"Harry gets to start school on his birthday," she explains. "What a great present! And guess what? We get to have a birthday party on the very first day of school."
Another student has a question for Mrs. Lang.
"Teacher, is my mom gone?" Jaye asks, his voice cracking and face stained with tears.
"Yes," Mrs. Lang assures him with her soft voice and loving smile, "but she'll be back this afternoon."
Another student has a question, or so Mrs. Lang thinks, and she tells her students that they have a fellow classmate who doesn't know how to speak English yet.
"We will have a hard time understanding him and he'll have a hard time understanding us for a while," Mrs. Lang admits, "but learning things together builds friendships. So remember, treat others like you would like to be treated."
The class now gets ready for their very first restroom break. Mrs. Lang says be quiet in the hallway, wait your turn in line, flush, wash your hands with one squirt of soap, dry your hands, and line up to come back to the classroom.
Each student receives a nametag to place on their shirt before heading to the restroom, at which point Jaye, cheeks and eyes still red and puffy, declares, "I'm having fun!"
The students line up by tables, pushing their chairs in as they leave, and form a line. Mrs. Lang instructs them to put one finger in front of their lips as a reminder to be quiet in the hallway and one hand behind their back as a reminder to keep their hands to themselves.
"Mrs. Lang will give you one thumb up when she's proud of you," she says as she admires her kindergarten students standing in a quiet, straight line at the classroom door. "Two thumbs up means I'm very proud, and you get two thumbs up today because I am very proud of all of you for listening and following directions so well."
Story time adventure
Mrs. Brewer's class has gathered on the rug to hear their teacher read "The Gingerbread Man," complete with different voices for each character.
"Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man," the class begins to repeat in unison with Mrs. Brewer.
The kindergarteners become visibly concerned for the title character's wellbeing when he meets up with threatening characters, especially the wolf and the fox. And when the Gingerbread Man is gobbled up by the fox, John slaps his forehead in utter disbelief.
"Now, remember how I told you this morning that we're baking our very own gingerbread man? Well, I think he should be about ready so we'll walk down to the lunchroom and get him out of the oven," Mrs. Brewer explains. "The lunchroom, or cafeteria, is where you'll eat lunch each day."
When the students reach the lunchroom, their gingerbread man seems to be missing from the oven. Mrs. Brewer quizzes the cafeteria staff about the mysterious disappearance.
"I saw him run away," one of the staff says, "and he dropped this note."
The note reads: You missed me, I wanted to play. Maybe you'll catch me in the gym today.
So the class heads off to the gym where they meet their P.E. teacher, Lisa Halbrooks. She said the gingerbread man came running through the gym just moments earlier.
"And he left a clue," she explains.
The note reads: You missed me again. I'm too fast. Maybe you'll find me in the office.
Mrs. Brewer takes the class to the front office and introduces them to Linda Houston, better known to students as "The Mickey Mouse Lady" for all of her Mickey Mouse office d/cor.
Mrs. Brewer tells her kindergarten class if they ever need to take a note to the office, Mrs. Houston is the lady to see.
However, Mrs. Houston has not seen the missing gingerbread man.
"But I did find this note," she tells the anxious class.
The note reads: I was here. Where were you? Go to the library to find me or a clue.
In the library, the class meets Sue Hayes, library media specialist, but they don't find their gingerbread man.
"Maybe he's hiding," Mrs. Hayes suggests. "Let's be very quite and see if we can find him. Look, there's a clue!"
The note reads: I was feeling sick, sick, sick. I hurried to the health room quick, quick, quick.
Betty Lawrence is treating an older student's boo-boo when the class arrives still seeking their gingerbread man. Hannah spots a clue on the wall.
The note reads: I was here, but I went zoom. Maybe you'll find me in your room.
After having a nice adventure to all of the important parts of their new school, Mrs. Brewer's class is ready to find that gingerbread man and eat him for a mid-morning snack.
But once inside the classroom, neither Mrs. Brewer nor the students can find the gingerbread man.
"He tricked us," Dylan decides.
"Where is that gingerbread man?" Mrs. Brewer whispers to herself.
Then, Margaret Campbell, the school's speech pathologist, bursts into the classroom with a freshly baked gingerbread man.
"I saw him running down the hallway and caught him," she explains. "Does he belong to you?"
Mrs. Brewer and the class say yes and thank Mrs. Campbell for catching their snack. As Mrs. Brewer gets ready to serve the escapee, Jackson says, "Excuse me, but does he have nuts in him, because I'm allergic to nuts."
Mrs. Brewer smiles and assures Jackson there are no nuts in this gingerbread man. Later during playtime, Jackson brings Mrs. Brewer a small yellow flower he has picked.
"This is for you," he says. "It's just a little way of saying thanks."
A great way to end the day
The kindergarten class of 2005-2006 has already learned a lot on the first day of school…and it isn't event 10 a.m. yet. However, the first seven days of school are half days for kindergarten classes with class dismissed at 11:30 a.m. to ease the students into their new routine.
Each class now gathers on the playground just outside their classroom doors and swing, slide and climb until time to get ready for lunch.
Some of the kindergarteners met at Vacation Bible School this summer, but most are meeting for the first time. Students find and make friends easily, usually by just approaching a classmate, taking them by the hand, and suggesting, "Let's go swing."
Kindergarten teachers have already explained the rules of the playground and are keeping an ever-watchful eye on everyone.
When it's time to go in and get washed up for lunch, the kindergarten students are asked how their first day of school has been so far.
"I'm hot and I'm hungry," Katelyn of Mrs. Jones class declares.
With that in mind, all students return to their classrooms and learn how to wash up for lunch and get their things together so they will be ready to go home after they finish eating.
Mrs. Waldrop's class is the first in line at the big yellow school bus buffet line in the cafeteria. The kindergarten students are served up chicken nuggets or hot dogs, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, peaches, and milk or juice.
"The food is good, really good," one of Mrs. Waldrop's students comments to his friend.
"But this milk is really hard to open," his friend replies.
Mrs. Waldrop and the other kindergarten teachers stay busy helping their new students open drink cartons and condiment packets, assuring each one that they, too, will learn how to do these tasks very soon.
And with such supportive teachers and staff, these kindergarten students will surely learn much, much more as their formal education beings.

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