08/27/07 — School bells ring

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School bells ring

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 27, 2007 1:45 PM

Six-year-old Sarah Boyette had a spring in her step as she walked down the hall at Rosewood Elementary School early this morning.

Decked out in her blue Skechers, a brown T-shirt and skirt, her hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail as she held her mom Lori's hand.

"Today is really special," the first-grader said, despite having a few "sleepies" that made it hard to rise early.

She began packing her pink book bag last night, she said.

"I had to check off my list of what I needed to do and bring," she said.

Tina King accompanied her two boys, Lee, a third-grader, and Travis, in first grade.

"They were up and ready," she said. "I think they're a little excited."

"I'm not," Lee said. "I want to stay home."

"They've been home for three months," said their stay-at-home-mom. "Even for me, I have separation anxiety."

Outside her classroom, first-grade teacher Mary Ann Leon waited for her new group of students. Even though she has taught for 11 years, all at Rosewood Elementary, the first day of school still holds a few challenges.

"It's exciting meeting new kids, starting a new year," she said. "Just getting to know the kids. ... Today will be a chance to just get to know each other, get used to new procedures, new routines."

Many common themes could be found around the county this morning -- jammed roadways and parking lots as buses and motorists made their way to schools, youngsters clinging tightly to parents' hands, some walking somberly, saying little, while others offered last-minute advice and words of encouragement before releasing their offspring.

First-day jitters are not limited to students, though.

Celia James, principal at Meadow Lane Elementary School, was more than a little excited -- and even a little bit nervous.

"I know I didn't sleep last night," she said. "I had another teacher walk up and ask, 'Are you as tired as I am?'

"The excitement of the first day, you want to make sure everything goes just right. I think that's how everyone feels."

For educators, today represents "the key to the year," Mrs. James said. "We try to help the parents, ensure them that their child will be safe and taken care of."

Crystal Raynor walked her son, Jaquel James, to his third-grade classroom at Meadow Lane.

"I'm looking forward to playing games, having a lot of fun, reading, doing history, algebra -- I used to do that in second grade," Jaquel said. "I want to do hard stuff, like division."

Although eager to begin, he said he could have slept a little longer.

"My brother woke me up by cutting on the light," he said.

Ms. Raynor said it's exciting to see her two children growing up and relishes their return to school.

"I'm glad they're getting out of the house. I'll have the house to myself today," she said.

In the hallway headed to eat breakfast, fourth-grader Lauren Cook was joined by mom Dana Cook, pushing Lauren's younger sister in a stroller. Mrs. Cook also has two older children, so she is a veteran at getting kids back to a routine.

"They weren't hard at all to get up this year," she said. "I think they were all ready to go."

Meanwhile, in the parking lot, Joyce Thompson, a Title I teacher, had an umbrella in case the overcast skies opened up, as she welcomed and directed everyone to the school.

"Things are going well," she said. "We're ensuring that things go smoothly by being seen in the parking areas and traffic areas.

"Everyone seems happy, maybe a little excited, a little butterfly in the stomach."