08/15/12 — Summer countdown: For some, a few days left of freedom

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Summer countdown: For some, a few days left of freedom

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 15, 2012 1:46 PM

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Jaylan Sykes, 7, is hanging on to the last days of summer, playing as much as possible at Herman Park. Sykes said he only has nine days before school starts. He will be entering the second grade at Eastern Wayne Elementary.

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Wayne Country Day School second-grade teacher Gwen Barber instructs Thomas Gurley, 7, center, and Berkley Woodard, 7, right, where to place their backpacks during the first day of school this morning. Waves of school children and parents flooded the hallways as teachers and staff greeted them for their first day back at school.

His legs are covered with scrapes and bruises.

His mountain bike is "falling apart."

But Rajan Scott could tell you about the "coolest tree" on Audubon Avenue -- how the flowers it produces at the end of spring came and went; how for the past few weeks, a swarm of cicadas have protected it from a boy who, at the beginning of the summer, dared to climb its massive branches.

"It's probably a good thing, though," the 12-year-old said, smiling as he pulled up his sleeve to show off a scar. "I fell pretty far."

As the first day of school looms, Rajan is one of many Wayne County children compelled to maximize their remaining days of "freedom."

Kyrie Fulton is another.

"My mom just said to be home by dark," the 10-year-old said, moments before rejoining a group of friends who met, for the first time, a few weeks ago at Herman Park. "We go to different schools, so she knows I want to hang with them while I can."

But unlike 8-year-old Dashaun Miller, who said he "hates school" and is "getting mad" about the prospect of returning to the classroom at the end of the month, Kyrie and Rajan are actually excited.

"Summer gets boring sometimes," Rajan said. "All my friends are at school."

Across town, Kyrie said just about the same thing -- adding only that many of the things she loves to do are after-school activities.

"I take piano and I dance, but I only do that after school," she said. "So I really want to go back."

Children, though, aren't the only ones who are ready to get back into the routine that comes with the beginning of the school year.

"It's time," said Justine Hanson, looking across the park at her two sons. "I've enjoyed them, but they are starting to drive me crazy."

Her friend -- and the mother of her children's playmates -- agreed.

"You too?" she quipped, putting a hand of Justine's shoulder and laughing. "I hear you, girl. But the end is coming. I can see the light."