The journey begins

Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

“Who was president during the Civil War?” Sheila Pitsenbarger asks her grandson, Nicholas Jones, at Elephant’s Fork Elementary School Friday.

“Abe Lincoln,” Nicholas replies shyly.

“And he was also called what? The Great what?”

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“Emancipator,” comes the shy reply again.

“And what happened to him? He got what?”

“Assassinated,” 4-year-old Nicholas replies.

It’s easy to see Nicholas is a bright, shy boy who is looking forward to entering school so he can learn more.

Pitsenbarger and Nicholas had just come from orientation at Elephant’s Fork on Friday. Today is the first day of school for Nicholas, who will enter the Early Start program at the school this year. Nicholas will turn 5 in October, just missing the cut-off to enter kindergarten this year.

Pitsenbarger, who has custody of Nicholas, moved to Suffolk for the school system, she said.

“I’m just happy the Suffolk school system offers a program like Early Start to serve the children who missed their birthday,” she said.

Pitsenbarger has taught Nicholas at home since he was 18 months old. Apparently, the 16th president was part of the curriculum.

“I’m more nervous than he is,” Pitsenbarger admitted. “But he needs the socialization.”

Nicholas couldn’t name his favorite subject, although he demonstrated an impressive knowledge of history for a 4-year-old.

“I just like school,” he said.

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Nicholas had a ready answer.

“I want to be a basketball player,” he said, adding that he also likes baseball and admires famed Yankee player Babe Ruth. His grandmother added that he loves the “Planet Earth” series and dinosaurs.

Pitsenbarger said she doesn’t expect to cry when Nicholas gets on the bus Tuesday — but only since she won’t be there. However, a homemade sign will ensure the bus driver doesn’t miss picking Nicholas up, she said.

“My husband will be there,” she said. “He’s making a sign.”