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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Back to School: Day of firsts for many students and teachers

Thursday, August 21, 2003

A radar cart was parked by the Sikeston Senior and Junior High School for the first day of school Wednesday in an attempt to slow drivers
(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- As Sikeston R-6 students and personnel filed into their buildings for the first day of class Wednesday, several of them were reminded that the first day at a new place can create the same feelings of excitement and nervousness at any age.

For example, new kindergartners at the Sikeston Kindergarten Center were treated like royalty on their first day of school.

Balloons adorned the red carpet that led up to the entrance of the building, where a sign read "Welcome Friends" with music playing in the background.

It was also new principal Cindy Griffin's first day of school with the students.

"The kids were so excited," Griffin said. "Not many of them cried; some did and so did some parents -- but I think it's a bigger step for mom and dad."

A Sikeston Kindergarten Center student is consoled before school Wednesday, the first day of school in the Sikeston school district.
Many of the students came Tuesday to meet their teachers, Griffin said. It helped them adjust a little better so that Wednesday morning wasn't their first day entering the building, she explained.

"The first day here is just like the first day at any new school -- kindergarten through high school," Griffin said. "The students learn the general rules of the building."

In the morning, groups of students walking in single file lines were found throughout the building listening as their teachers explained daily routines and where places such as special classes, the nurse's office and the principal's office were located.

While other kids were getting tours of the school, it was recess time for kindergartners Gavin Moore and Taylor Wooden. Wooden said she was having fun. And even though he'd only been in school a couple of hours, Moore said he'd already learned the rules: "Don't yell out. Raise your hand to talk. Stay in line. Be quiet," he said.

Over at the Sikeston Junior High School, there was no red carpet and the only sign greeting the new eighth graders was a big yellow one in the office reminding them that they must have their class schedules before school starts.

Making the change from middle school to junior high wasn't really that big of a change, said eighth graders Brittany Ritch, Kacie Hust and Brittney Rucke.

"We've already got homework," said one of their friends who walked up to the group.

While there are rules at the junior high, they're not as basic as the ones at the Kindergarten Center. Rules at the junior high school consisted of "no cell phones in the building, and if a ring is heard, it will be confiscated" as well as following the dress code.

"It's been neat. The gym is smaller here and we get to go to our lockers more often -- we get to go after each class. It wasn't like that in middle school," Ritch said.

But 10th graders at Sikeston Senior High School noticed many more differences between junior high and senior high school.

"Boys!" sophomore Carrie Valdez said excitedly. "There are senior boys."

Plus the classes are mixed with members of different grades. "Before, we just had class with people in our grade and now we have classes with people from other grades," Jenny Stewart explained.

The sophomores admitted they were pretty nervous Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning before school.

"I almost threw up," admitted Stephanie Kitchen.

They all agreed the biggest difference between junior high and high school was the bigger campus. "In junior high, you stay in one building the whole day, and here there are like four or five different buildings for classes," they chimed in.

And four minutes in between classes was fine at junior high, but it's barely cutting it in high school. One of the girls' biggest worries was that they would get lost or wouldn't make it to class on time.

"You have to speed walk to get there. Forget gym class, I can lose 10 pounds speed walking to class," Kitchen said.

On their first day, most of their classes have consisted of filling out information for their teachers. However, Kitchen said she did have homework already.

And at 3:30 p.m., the bell rang at Morehouse Elementary School, where first-year teacher Beth Lambert had just finished her first day.

"It went really good," Lambert said with a relief. "The kids were really good and really enthusiastic."

The morning was the most difficult part of the day, said the third grade teacher. Everything was so new, and they didn't know where to sit and were anxious and nervous about school starting, she said.

Lambert said she was so nervous when she went to bed Tuesday night, but it disappeared when the kids walked into her classroom.

"I'm worn out," she said at the end of the day. Lambert was busy getting her room ready until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and got to school as soon as the building opened at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Lambert said she expects Thursday to be even better since the students will have an idea of their routine and know more about their classroom.

"It's just a matter of time before everyone gets used to it," Lambert said. "But eventually they will feel more comfortable. It just takes time."