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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Students enjoy their first day of first grade

Friday, August 19, 2005

Danny "D.J." Hicks rolls play dough out into a snake to spell his name.
SIKESTON -- No tears were shed, but lots of hugs and kisses were given as parents said goodbye to their children in Elaine Sever's first grade class at Southeast Elementary Thursday morning.

"She seemed glad for school to start," said Anthony Scheffer after dropping off his daughter, Melinda.

But Tracy Skinner admitted her son, Andrew, was a little nervous about the first day of first grade.

"He even acted like he had a stomach ache," Skinner said. "... He's where the school is bigger and it's a different building -- It's real school."

Making the transition from kindergarten to first grade is a huge step for children, pointed out Sever, who is in her seventh year teaching first grade.

"It's an exciting year for the kids," Sever said. "They make so many changes -- and they're eager to learn."

As students entered their classroom Thursday morning, they learned which seat was theirs and checked in their school supplies. Their desks were divided into five groups of four with each group designated a day of the week. This comes in handy when lining up for breaks, lunch, etc., their teacher later pointed out.

"First grade is more structured than kindergarten. The children aren't as free to roam, and there's no bathroom in the classroom," Sever said, citing some of the differences.

Most of the first day is spent learning classroom procedures and getting acquainted with each other, Sever said, adding the students will go over what they've learned for several days.

At one point early in the day, Sever told her class, which was getting a little loud: "When you hear my voice, look at me because I probably have something important to say."

Throughout the next few days, Sever said she will also interview a child about personal information so the students can learn more about each other. By about the sixth or seventh child, they'll know what to do, she said.

Today's first grade is a lot different than first grade from years ago, Sever said.

"It used to be kindergarten was for social skills, but that's not the case anymore," Sever said.

Throughout the school year, students will be introduced to concepts such as reading comprehension, grammar, science and social studies.

"In math, they'll learn how to count by twos, fives and tens," Sever said. "And we'll talk about money and how to make change."

Sever is quick to point out the students will not master everything they're exposed to this year, but it will get them ready for what's ahead in second grade.

"A lot of what we do is graphic organizing, and we'll learn how to write sentences and about complete pronouns and antecedents," Sever said.

On Thursday students colored and participated in several activities, including a rhyming game that helped the students learn each other's names.

But the highlight of the day, came when students were given "magic play dough" to determine what the upcoming school year would hold for them. "Does everyone want to have a really hard-working first grade year?" Sever asked her class.

Every hand shot up in the air.

"Does everyone want to do a good job?" she said.

Hands stayed raised.

"If you do well in first grade this year, this play dough will change colors," as she handed out plastic bags of homemade play dough to each student.

Within a few minutes of smashing the dough, one at a time, the children started shouting: "Mine's turning orange! Mine's turning pink! Mine's green!" First grader Sierra Stewart made a foot, a hand and a heart with her play dough.

"I was nervous at first," Sierra said about whether her ball of dough would change color.

But her nerves quickly subsided.

"I love this school! I'm gonna stay here forever," Sierra said as she admired the blue hand she made with a cookie cutter.

And as she walked from group to group, listening to the children's excitement, Sever beamed: "This makes my day."

First graders weren't the only ones having all the fun Thursday as the entire district started classes. Sikeston R-6 superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said the district had a good opening day. Enrollment for students in grades K-12 was slightly down from last year at 3,700, he noted.