Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
Misty-eyed parents said goodbye to their excited and anxious children earlier this week, as they started their first day of kindergarten in Lincoln County schools. Parents weren’t shooed off right away, though, and were able to sit in with their children as teachers introduced themselves and talked about the upcoming school year.
In Iron Station Elementary Kindergarten teacher Amanda Horcutt’s classroom, students and parents were separated into two tables. The children played at their own table and got to know each other, while Horcutt met with the parents on the other side of the room. Children were then taken on an around-the-school tour where they made stops at the library, cafeteria and other parts of the building that would be their new school.
Next door, teacher Rippy Cochrane tried a different approach. Parents and children sat together at tables around the room, while the new students colored and got to know each other the first hour of the school day.
Crystal Caldwell sat watching her son, Dillon, quickly color pattern on a piece of paper, excited to start his day. Excited wasn’t exactly the emotion she was feeling.
“I’m a little and nervous, but happy for him at the same time,” Caldwell told the Times-News on Monday.
Overhearing his mother’s conversation, Dillon, shocked, turned toward her and said, “Nervous? Why are you nervous, mom? I can handle anything.”
Over the last week, Caldwell helped her son go to sleep earlier each night and wake up at the time he would have to be up during the school year. He was wide awake on his first day, as he ran ahead of his mother toward the front doors of Iron Station, Caldwell laughed.
He couldn’t wait for his day to start.
Rearranging bed times and waking their children up earlier to prepare them for the school year were common practices among the parents, as were tears from the parents and smiles on their children’s faces.
Whether it was the coloring sheets, friendly faces of their new teachers or Play-doh, Iron Station’s newest additions seemed excited to be there.
Across the county at Love Memorial Elementary School, southwest of Lincolnton, Principal Diand Canipe had her hands full with unexpected technical woes. The air-conditioning unit froze, damaging several ceiling tiles that had to be replaced, while a school bus was having complications as well. A dead battery left the school one bus down, and a substitute bus was called in to go pick up the children on the route, causing those students to arrive 30 minutes late.
Despite the chaotic scene she walked into, the halls were unusually quiet, Canipe noted but attributed to the new students’ first day scare.
“One good thing, though, is there was only one tearful kindergartner today,” Canipe said. “But not so many happy parents.”
Various students have been enrolling recently, up until the morning of the first day. Three students registered on Monday, bringing the total count of kindergartners to about 40 and an overall 280 students at the elementary school.
All the students won’t be starting together, however, until Thursday. Love Memorial has a staggered first-day schedule, where small groups of students start each day, until later in the week when they will all meet.
“It’s about the third or fourth year we’ve done this,” teacher Julie Blakeley said. “It gives the teachers the chance to assess the students and see dynamics — if there are any children who don’t get along or other adjustments that need to be made.”
After the bustle of the first week calms, Canipe will start focusing on making sure the students are learning as much as they can, while teachers get better acquainted and confident with the curriculum changes, she said.
Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News