08/25/11 — Students head back to classes

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Students head back to classes

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 25, 2011 1:46 PM

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Grantham School kindergarten teacher Susan Long starts the first day of school with her new students Thursday morning. Wayne County public schools started the new school year today.

Taylor Gay sat atop a table in a kindergarten classroom at Northeast Elementary School this morning, leg swinging back and forth as she waited for the moments to pass until the start of class.

The fifth-grader was fine now that she had arrived, but admitted she struggled a bit with the first day of school.

"I stayed in bed for like 10 minutes because I couldn't get up," she said. "I went and took a shower because I was so sleepy, got dressed and ate my breakfast."

"And then out the door," chimed in Annsleigh Rouse, a first-grader and Taylor's neighbor.

Annsleigh was ready for the day to begin, she said, having already met her teacher, Miss Lancaster.

Plus she is very familiar with the school, since her mom, Laura Rouse, is kindergarten teacher in the class where Annsleigh and Taylor waited for the bell to ring. The three had ridden to school together.

"This morning was great," Mrs. Rouse said. "In fact, that's what we talked about on the way here. ... Today we were excited to wear new clothes and take new bookbags.

"Now, I don't know about tomorrow, but we're excited."

Becky Blair, a third-grade teacher at the school, left the school office bound for her classroom. Daughter Abigail, a second-grader, wearing a pink dress and white sandals, carried folders for her mom.

"This is my third year at Northeast, my fourth in Wayne County schools," Mrs. Blair said. "I have two children here -- my son's in fourth grade. It makes it really nice to have them here. It's a lot easier to have them transition."

First-grade teacher Stacey Robinson was setting out lanyards with each student's identification on them.

The feeling in the air was quite different than in years past, she said.

"This is my fifth year teaching and after those first three years -- you're more excited and nervous -- this year I'm more relaxed," she said. "Open house went great. I'm getting a new batch of kids coming and wonderful parent support, I can already tell."

She anticipates 21 students in her class, she said, and envisions it will be a wonderful year.

"I can already picture the field trips and the fall activities, the whole year," she said. "You know how it is the first day, the whole building and the teachers are excited."

Heather Pridgen waited in a hallway with daughters Natalie, 10, and Kathryn, 8.

The biggest challenge so far had been getting out of bed this morning, Mrs. Pridgen said.

"Very hard. They have gotten used to sleeping until 11," she said.

The girls patiently waited for the signal that they could go to class. Not so much to begin the task of studying, as Kathryn readily admitted her favorite part of the day would be "playground" and Natalie said she was looking forward to reuniting with her friends.

It's the fifth-grader's last year at Northeast and in elementary school, her mother said, wistfully.

"I'm nervous about that because it makes me feel old," she said. "She's already almost as tall as I am."

Derek Teasley and daughter Audrey, 4, walked son and brother Tavian Watson, 8, into the school.

"He's not a big school fan after the summer but he got up with no problem," Teasley said.

Now Audrey was another matter.

"She's all ready to go to school but she can't go yet," he said.

Safety patrol students were positioned at the entrances to the building and each hallway. They were easily recognized in day-glo orange vests.

Fifth-graders Aubrey Hawkins and Kaylee Williams were stationed by the doorway to Building B.

"We have to stand here and make sure the kindergartners who are new get to class," Kaylee said.

"And, like, if some kids don't know where to go, we tell them," Aubrey added.

Amanda Smith and 8-year-old daughter Kacey were relatively calm as they waited patiently at the entrance for the school day to begin.

"It wasn't so tough because I planned ahead of time," Mrs. Smith said. "I already had her lunch made the night before. We already had her clothes out. We had all her school things with her name on them.

"So all we had to do was eat and get ready and make sure to leave on time because of traffic."

La'Niyah Coley, also 8, said she also felt pretty prepared for the first school day.

"I had my clothes and my shoes already out, and I already had my stuff in the bookbag," she said. "All we had to do was eat and leave."

Even the school's new principal, Robert Yelverton, said it had been a "pretty smooth transition," while being in some ways a reunion.

"I served as assistant principal here for three years before I became a principal, so there are many familiar faces," he said.

The schoolwide theme again this year is "Wild About Northeast," he said, as he poised for the arrival of 732 students.

"We're pretty excited to get started," he said. "I appreciate the support from the community and the teachers welcoming me back into the school."