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Kids and parents are excited, nervous about first day of school

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WATERTOWN — Students are going back to school in less than a week in the north country. For some parents, it will be hard to see their children leave home for the first time to start classes, but some of their children are excited about the little things going to school means.

Lucy M. Sabel, 4, said she was excited about her first day of prekindergarten.

“I’m going to wear a pretty dress,” she said. “It’s going to be my first day at school.”

Sandra J. Higgins said she anticipates it will be difficult to send her first child, Brandon, off to school.

“I think it’s always going to be emotional for moms,” Mrs. Higgins said. “He’s excited, though. He thinks it’s going to be one big playtime.”

Mrs. Higgins said she has been preparing her 4-year-old for school all summer, teaching the ABCs and other recommended lessons given to her by his school. She said he picked out his first backpack this week, a blue bag with dinosaurs.

“There are a couple of moms on our street that gave us some advice,” Mrs. Higgins said.

She has talked with other mothers about everything from riding the school bus for the first time to the teachers at General Brown. She said talking with other moms who have children in the same school district has eased her mind.

“I only worry, me being a mom, about leaving him with someone else,” she said.

Sean B. McDonald said for his son Harrison, 6, he anticipates it will be a little harder than when his eldest son, Logan, 8, went to school.

“Not excited,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s older brother said it wasn’t so bad for him on his first day of school.

“He’s scared. He’s afraid he’s going to have to do math,” Logan said.

Mr. McDonald said Harrison has become increasingly nervous about the first day of school as it gets closer,

“I’m kind of sad to see them go back,” Mr. McDonald said. He said over the summer he and his three sons get to spend a lot more time together. “In the grand scheme of things, though, it’s good for them to go back to school,” he said.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. McDonald said, Harrison gets upset about leaving his family and going to school.

“I prepare them by talking to them about what to expect, what their teachers have told us and I ask if they’re ready,” Mr. McDonald said. “The biggest thing is reassuring him it’s going to be OK. It is scary starting school, I remember, but I think him having his brother and knowing he’s there will be a big help.”

Logan promised to walk into school with his little brother every day, and even though they won’t get to spend time together during the day, Logan said he’ll ask Harrison’s teachers if his brother is doing OK.

Sarah J. Thomas said two of her three young children have started school and the youngest, 4-year-old Bryce Mee-Thomas, wants to go to school but missed, by one month, the cutoff date to attend this year.

“They didn’t want a summer. They wanted to stay in school and keep learning,” Mrs. Thomas said.

She said when her oldest, Skyye, 7, went to school, it was hard to send her off.

“For me it was sad, but she was excited to start school,” Mrs. Thomas said. “It got easier; she likes to learn.”

Mrs. Thomas said her daughter always came home and taught her brothers what she learned that day in class. Now that her older son, Mykel, 6, is in school, she said she hopes they both come home and share with Bryce what they learned.

“I like this age. They’re still excited to go to school,” Mrs. Thomas said.

Mykel said he is excited to start school to see his friends again.

Sarah M. Walters, a mother of three children, said she is excited to send off her daughter Brianna M. to her first day of kindergarten. Her eldest son, Christian M., started school three years ago and her youngest daughter, Alaina, 2, will stay at home with her.

“I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting a long time for school to start,” Mrs. Walters said. “It will be nice to have some separation. I’ll get one-on-one time with Alaina.”

Mrs. Walters said she wants to hear about the new adventures Brianna and Christian will bring back from school and Alaina probably will be very excited at the end of the day to go and pick up her older siblings.

“It will be an adventure,” Mrs. Walters said.

When her son left for school, she said, it was a little hard, but by starting her children off in preschool, it was easier, and they were eased into the school environment.

“He’s always been a little on the shy side so I was worried when he went to school, but it wasn’t so bad,” Mrs. Walters said. “He enjoys learning and the adventure of playing with his friends.”

She said this year she has no anxieties about sending Brianna to school.

“I think she will do well. She’s a high-energy girl, not afraid to make new friends,” Mrs. Walters said. She said as long as Brianna can focus and listen to her teachers she will do well. “I think school will be really good for her.”

Christian said he has been trying to prepare his little sister for her new role as student.

“I told her she has to do math,” Christian said.

Brianna replied, wide-eyed, to her brother: “No math!”

Mrs. Walters said her daughter’s school sent home with Brianna a list of skills children are encouraged to practice: things such as using scissors, counting to 12, writing her name and drawing circles.

Gabrielle F. Melvin, 9, will be starting in the third grade — but for the first time will go to not just one new school, but two.

“I’m excited to meet new friends,” she said. Gabrielle, who has attended Knickerbocker Elementary School in Watertown since kindergarten, will start the school year in Washington state next week, but a month later, her family will be moving to South Korea. Her mother, Mallory A., said it will be the biggest move for the military family.

“I think she is going to do OK with the transition,” Mrs. Melvin said.

She said that when her daughter first started school it was an emotional time, but watching Gabrielle enjoy making new friends made it easier. She said she hopes the next move will be just as easy for her.

Gabrielle said her favorite subject is math; she can’t wait to go to school with some of the other children in her family from Washington and is very excited to see a new country, she said.

Ohio Elementary School Principal Mark L. Taylor said school officials realize sending a child off to school for the first time can be difficult and encourage all parents to call the school office with questions.

“Pick up the phone and call us; we’re here any time,” Mr. Taylor said. “We understand it’s quite a challenge for parents; it’s tough to let their kids go, but it’s also nice to let them grow.”

School start days

Jefferson County:

Carthage, General Brown, Lyme, Indian River, Sackets Harbor, Thousand Islands, Alexandria, LaFargeville, South Jefferson, Belleville Henderson and Immaculate Heart central schools will hold their first day of school Wednesday.

Watertown City School District students in kindergarten through ninth grade will start Wednesday and students in grades 10 to 12 begin Thursday.

Lewis County:

Wednesday: Copenhagen, Lowville and Beaver River.

Thursday: Harrisburg and South Lewis.

St. Lawrence County:

All county schools begin Thursday except Hammond Central School, which begins Wednesday.

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