A big step into kindergarten

Published 12:46 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New kindergartner Bryce Holman, 5, gets to know LeighAnne Santa, who will be his teacher this year, at Creekside Elementary School’s kindergarten orientation. Bryce, who is the last of three siblings to start school, said he is happy to be entering kindergarten.

As he stepped into Mrs. Dennis’ class for the first time during a recent open house, Devann Lewis stayed close to his mother and surveyed the room suspiciously.

Devann had been to Nansemond Parkway Elementary School before, but this was different — the room was bigger, and he didn’t know anyone.

But then, a voice called from across the room, “Devann!” And the 5-year-old’s eyes lit up as he looked up to see his friend Bobby Volpe, who was in Devann’s pre-K class last year.

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“Bobby,” he shouted back, and Devann tore from his mother’s side to embrace his buddy.

Suddenly, kindergarten didn’t seem so tough, now that he had a friend there.

“Devann is my best friend,” Bobby said. “We played Jedis together in school.”

Devann and Bobby are two of hundreds of others who are taking a big-kid step into kindergarten this year. Today is the first day of school.

Even though their parents might be bundles of nerves, it seems that many of the new kindergarteners couldn’t be happier to be starting school, learning new things and being a part of a class.

Bobby said he isn’t worried about learning new things or riding the bus, but one thing has him a little anxious.

“I’m a little nervous because I’m going on the playground,” he said. “But it’s kind of fun.”

Another one of Dennis’ new students, Morgann Williams, is coming to Nansemond Parkway for the first time this year. She doesn’t seem worried, though.

Morgann said she is eager to start school and make new friends, but the most thrilling part of kindergarten will be riding the bus.

“I’ve never been on a bus before,” she said. “I think it will be fun.”

Morgann’s mother, Shareka Williams, said she is nervous for her little girl to start school, because there is more responsibility in kindergarten.

“She’s going to have to be more independent,” she said. “I’m a little scared for her.”

But Williams is confident Morgann will do great this year.

“She’s a very smart girl, and she catches on quickly,” she said.

Bobby, Devann and Morgann’s new teacher, Bridget Dennis, said managing a kindergarten classroom can be hectic, because there are so many different personalities.

“There are really shy kids and others who are very uninhibited,” she said.

To maintain order, Dennis said, the first two weeks of school will be filled with learning routines.

She said even the students who attended pre-K will have a lot to learn. They didn’t spend a lot of time outside their classrooms in pre-K, but they will have to leave the room a lot as kindergarteners.

The new students will have to get used to things like lining up, walking in the hallway and finding their way around a big school.

“We spend a lot of time building routine,” Dennis said. “If you tell kindergarteners to line up, you might get six different lines.”

Even though it’s a lot to learn, she said, most students take right to it.

“They learn quickly,” she said. “Most of them love the routine, and they love kindergarten.”

Across the hallway from Mrs. Dennis’ class, 4-year-old A’marriel Banks is starting school in Sharonda Lewis’ class.

Like Bobby and Devann, A’marriel attended pre-K at Nansemond Parkway, and she couldn’t wait to come back to school after a long summer.

“She’s been asking to come to school all summer,” said her mother, Cherrelle Diggs.

A’marriel loves her new classroom, she said, and she is looking forward to staying at school for longer than she did last year.

“I’m excited about staying at school (all day),” A’marriel said. “I want to make some friends to play with me. It makes (school) happy.”

For these children, there’s no doubt about it: It’s going to be a great year.