Old, new routines greet students going back to school

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Fri., Aug. 30, 2013
First-grader Brayden and his mom, Deb Canny, stop to chat with bus monitor Judy Fontaine-Higgins, a sixth-grade teacher at Lisbon Central School, on the first day. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
First-grader Brayden and his mom, Deb Canny, stop to chat with bus monitor Judy Fontaine-Higgins, a sixth-grade teacher at Lisbon Central School, on the first day. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

For all the high-tech trappings of the first day of school in the 21st century – computers in class, slick backpacks in neon colors, beefed-up security systems – some things never change. At Lisbon Central School, sixth-grade teacher Judy Fontaine-Higgins kept track of which buses had arrived using number cards and a wooden rack with a row of hooks. As each bus arrived and disgorged a new batch of freshly-scrubbed, smiling school children, she hung another number on the rack.

And some other things never change. “You grew!” declared one of the teachers at the school’s entrance, greeting a returning student.
“They change so much over the summer,” said LCS Principal Megan Jenkins, who over the summer moved from her post as scientific research-based interventions (SRBI) coordinator for the school to the principal’s office. A 10-year veteran of Lisbon Central and former first- and second-grade teacher, she knows whereof she speaks. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a great year,” said Jenkins. “We have a great staff, great kids, a great town. I know it sounds so cliché.”

Inside the building, teacher Shelly Apperson led her newly-minted second-graders through their morning routine. Calling her students up three at a time, she instructed them to put an eyeball sticker on the appropriate column on the lunch poster to indicate whether they were getting cafeteria lunch or had brown-bagged it. And since these were second-graders, she asked the obvious question. “Do I want you to put your real eyeball up there?” The question provoked a wave of giggles and a unanimous “Noooo!”

In another wing, eighth-graders piled notebooks and supplies into their lockers and compared notes on the summer. Eighth-grader Dyson Letourneau said that the first day of being the oldest class in the school was the “best day.” He said he was looking forward to doing math and language arts, in hopes of someday becoming a teacher himself.

How would he deal with the younger students as the big man on campus? “I’ll treat them with respect,” he said. “I’ll tell them not to run in the halls, and I’ll be a role model.”

At Voluntown Elementary School, new kindergarten students dutifully formed a line behind their line leader and door holder and trotted down the halls behind teacher Valerie Lord in search of Pete the Cat. Lord had read them a story called “Rocking in My School Shoes” featuring Pete on his first day at his school, describing what she called “all the hot spots” in the building: the gym, the art room, the music room, the nurse’s office. Lord and her 11 students followed Pete’s series of notes to find those rooms in VES, always just missing the elusive Pete.

“He was too quick for us,” said Lord. “His last note told us to go back to the place where you learn and have a good time” – the kindergarten classroom. There, the children found no Pete, but the materials to make a Pete the Cat craft in their afternoon session.


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