08/27/12 — School bells ring for returning students

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School bells ring for returning students

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 27, 2012 1:46 PM

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Vernell Harper and Wanda Wilson welcome children off of a school bus during the first day of school at Meadow Lane Elementary School early this morning. Today is the official first day of school for most schools across the county.

"Good morning! Are you excited?" said Donna Underwood, greeting a student outside the office of Eastern Wayne Elementary School today.

Rounding the corner, with her own children in tow, she stopped to unlock the door to the classroom where she has taught for the past 12 years.

"This is home, sweet home," she said.

Daughter Sarah Beth, a fifth-grader at the school, admitted she was anxious for classes to begin.

"I popped up and got going. And I got her ready," she said, gesturing at her younger sister, Anna, 5.

"She's a bit of a grouch," Mrs. Underwood said with a smile. "Someone asked if she was excited about kindergarten. She said, 'I'm not going to be able to ride the bus, so what's the point?'"

Sharon Foye, instructional assistant, has worked alongside Mrs. Underwood for the past 10 years. She said the start of a school year is simplified because kindergartners come in on a staggered schedule. They will have 18 students, but for the initial days, only six come in each morning.

Waiting outside the door, the bulk of her time was spent greeting former students, who readily veered over to give her a hug before heading off to their new first-grade classroom.

"I enjoy it, I really do, to get to see the little ones and the parents," Mrs. Foye said.

Christy Haley, curriculum facilitator, escorted the first kindergartner to arrive.

"She just rode the bus all by herself," she said as Asiajanah Hines set down her bright blue backpack and removed a composition book.

"I can't find my other book bag," the 5-year-old said. "My brother had it but he said he doesn't have it anymore."

Mrs. Foye set her up at a desk with some blocks to match the shapes.

Melanie Bowden brought in her youngest daughter, Aiyonna.

"First day of school is exciting," she said. "I have a fifth-grader and a kindergartner."

"And we have had both of them," Mrs. Foye said.

"Same teacher, same classroom," Mrs. Bowden added.

Her older daughter, Alexa, the upperclassman, will be in her last year at the school.

"Fifth-graders switch (classes) three times," her mother said. "It's bittersweet. But it's refreshing that (Aiyonna's) finally going to school. No more day care.

"I'm glad that they get to spend one year riding the bus and at the same school."

Eva Claire Lawrence, a second-grader, was accompanied by her dad, Ron Lawrence.

"It's exciting for her to be in a new school," he said, explaining that she had been at Spring Creek Elementary last year. Son Jack, a sixth-grader, is also starting middle school this year, at Eastern Wayne Middle.

"Today with it being the first day of school, they popped right out of bed," their dad said. "I think my son actually set his alarm for 5:30."

Sherry Duke, a first-grade teacher, busily helped incoming students unload backpacks and explained where supplies went.

Standing by as daughter, Hayley, unpacked crayons and pencils from a brown and white polka dot book bag, Jennifer Faust prepared to walk daughter, Jillian, a third-grader, to her class.

"It wasn't bad. They did very well," Mrs. Faust said of having to return to the routine. "Jillian was very excited to start school again. So was Hayley."

First-grader Bree Lafevers found her desk and sat down, as mom, Kim, pulled out a camera and began snapping pictures.

"The first morning is exciting, so we were on time," Mrs. Lafevers said. "Bree had a great year last year with Mrs. Underwood and we're excited to have Ms. Duke."

Tomorrow she'll get to do it all over again, as younger daughter, Anna Scott, begins preschool at Wayne Montessori.

As the crowd died down and buses began to pull away from the curb after having dropped off their charges, Kelly Capps, principal, said she was anxious to get the school year under way.

"We're ready to rock -- our theme this year is rock and roll -- EWE is ready to rock," she said. "Our school is growing. We're looking forward and expecting great things."