08/22/14 — They are excited

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They are excited

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 22, 2014 1:46 PM

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Khiry Reese, 5, looks on as her mother, Kim Gagliano, fills out forms in the kindergarten classroom at the Rosewood Elementary open house on Thursday night. Also there to help get her youngest grandchild ready for kindergarten was Mrs. Gagliano's mother and Khiry's grandmother, Shelia Norris.

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Victoria Skinner, 8, hugs her third-grade teacher and close family friend Rhea Tan at the North Drive Elementary open house on Thursday night. Victoria's mother, Shauna, also works as a third-grade teacher at North Drive.

There is something about walking into an elementary school on the threshold of a new school year.

Colorful signs await, greeting all who enter.

"Welcome to First Grade."

"Kindergarten is Monstrously Fun."

"Kick Start a New Year."

Open houses provide parents and students with that first glimpse before classes resume on Monday.

Held at elementary schools across the county Thursday night, it was also the chance to get the jitters out and begin to settle into a new routine.

"That fresh new start, fresh new batch of children coming in. They're excited, we're excited," said Charlenna Bennett-Carter, principal at North Drive Elementary School, where this year's theme will be "We're on the Same Team."

Laura Dillard, sign language interpreter, one of three at the school assigned to work with individual students, chatted in the hallway with student Victoria Skinner, whom Ms. Dillard called one of the school's best and brightest.

"I have been here a long time," said Victoria, whose favorite thing about school is "multiplication -- I learned it when I was 2."

The third-grader said she is almost ready for the new term.

"I figured out what I'm going to wear the first day of school. It's really pretty," she said. "I don't have my bookbag and stuff yet."

The third-grader will be in Rhea Tan's class, she said, even though her mom, Shauna Skinner, is also a third-grade teacher.

Preparing popcorn for those attending open house -- a nearby wall poster proclaiming, "Look Who Popped Into Third Grade" -- Mrs. Skinner said this marks her 14th year teaching at the school.

"I still get a little nervous, but I'm excited," she said.

At Rosewood Elementary School, many staff members wore purple and white baseball shirts, reflecting the school's theme for the coming year -- SPORTS, an acronym for Students Prepared, Organized and Ready for Tomorrow's Success, principal Charles Smith said.

"We always have a good turnout for open house, lots of involved parents," he said.

"It's fun to see the teachers and meet the teachers, see who's in her class," said Jay Collins, who attended with his wife, Jen, and daughter, McKenzie, a third-grader.

They admitted they hadn't picked up all their daughter's school supplies, but that was on purpose.

"We learned the hard way, wait until you get the teacher's list," Collins said. His wife explained that oftentimes teachers have their own preferences for what students will need.

At the school's entrance, Kim Gagliano paused to take pictures of her daughter, Khiry Reese, 5, in front of the class list posted on a bulletin board. They were accompanied by Ms. Gagliano's mom and Khiry's grandmother, Shelia Norris.

"I had three kids who graduated from Rosewood High School," Mrs. Norris said. The mother of four and now grandmother of 17 was there to support her youngest grandchild, she said.

Khiry was all smiles as she made her way through the crowd. Once inside her classroom, she quickly found her cubbie and nametag by her assigned seat.

"She's ready for school," her mom said.

"I have a zebra bookbag," Khiry said.

One of her classmates, Ethan Fariss, waited patiently by a desk as his mom, Kim, filled out papers while dad, Jason Fariss, mused about the upcoming rite of passage for their only child.

Fariss described it as "exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. He's been talking about coming to school for about four months now, since his birthday. He's looking forward to riding the bus.

"The closer it gets the more ready I am, I guess. I'll know more after Monday."

Four-year-old Samuel Vernon pranced into the school holding a stuffed Spiderman doll that was almost as tall as he was, followed by his mom, Lori Vernon, and 7-year-old sister, Katlyn.

"She's excited," Mrs. Vernon said of her second-grader. "She's gone here since kindergarten and she loves it. We love the teachers. There's a sense of family."

Fifth-grader Zion Cox and sixth-grader Mallory Arbeau said they were most looking forward to meeting their teachers and reuniting with friends.

Joy Cox, mother of Zion and a seventh-grade student, Judah Cox, appreciated the event for a different reason.

"That's my first introduction to the teachers and just getting information on what I can expect for the upcoming year," she said.