First day jitters and cheers at Killingly Memorial

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Tue., Sep. 3, 2013
Stacy and Andraya Crum were there to meet Natalie when school got out. Photos by D. Coffey.
Stacy and Andraya Crum were there to meet Natalie when school got out. Photos by D. Coffey.

A crowd of parents gathered outside Killingly Memorial School just after 3 p.m. on Aug. 28. They were there to pick up their children after their first day of school. When a school official announced they couldn't release children without a note, some of the moms wrote hastily. Marcia Tomasso was one. She was there to pick up her 7-year-old daughter, Alyssa.

Tomasso admitted to some first day jitters herself. “You worry if you packed everything, or if you forgot something in their lunch,” she said. “The kids are happy, but they're nervous. I was nervous.”

She wasn't alone. That happy, nervous energy surrounded the parents who waited to be let into the gym for the reunion with their children. Mothers, fathers and younger siblings were on hand. Bus drivers waited in their vehicles, route numbers posted on their windows. The minutes ticked down to 3:15 p.m. Just prior to that, they were let in to the gym, where they spread out along one side of it. Their eyes were glued to a far doorway.

When it opened, one little boy who saw his father against the far wall ran into his arms. Many of the children ran across the gym floor with backpacks swaying. Some of the packs seemed as big as the children who wore them.  

Principal Steven Wheeler and Assistant Principal Shari Ternowchek went around to each classroom to greet the students. “The first day went well. It was pretty quiet,” Wheeler said. “The kids were excited and the teachers are charged up.”

Ternowchek agreed. “The kids were excited,” she said. “The classrooms looked gorgeous. The teachers came out into the hallways to greet their students. It was seamless.” In another week, students will attend a "laser mania" session designed to get them excited about learning.

Alyson Belliveau said the open house held for students and parents the night before was a big help for her daughter, Emma. “She got a feel for everything,” Belliveau said. “She was so excited. We got to meet her teacher and see the classroom. It helped her immensely to come in and see the school before the big day.” 

Stacy Crum waited for her daughter, Natalie, to come out of first grade. She held 4-year-old Andraya, who had just finished her first day of pre-school that morning. “It was good for her,” Crum said. “She did great. She went right in.” When asked if she had any advice to share with kids going to school for the first time, Andraya said, “Don't be afraid.”

When the corridors were cleared and most of the children and parents had left the building, custodian Jerry Hart made his rounds through the main office. “It's good to get back to normal,” he said, “especially after the summer we had.” Ten teachers changed rooms, which meant floor-to-ceiling scrub-downs and moving furniture, on top of all the other summer maintenance projects.

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