Auburn kindergartners get first look at school life

Students got themselves ready for big day, some parents say
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The school bell rang throughout Auburn Wednesday morning, and some of Auburn Elementary’s newest members walked through their classroom doors with mixed emotions. Auburn kindergartner parents shared their experiences and feelings about their children’s big days. John Swatzke’s son, Gavin, started kindergarten, and Swatzke was ready with his camera to document the event. “I’m excited for him,” Swatzke said. “It’s a big start. He was up early and ready to go, and very excited about coming. He got ready very freely. He woke us up to get ready for school.” Gavin and the second student in the classroom began chatting after they put their backpacks away. When asked what he was looking forward to about school, Gavin had an answer ready. “I just got here,” he said. “I think it’s homework.” Josh Matson said his son, Adler, noticed something about the school right away. “He said, ‘More learning goes on in kindergarten than preschool, because we have a smaller playground,’” Matson said. Honi Matson said her son was ready to begin class. “He woke himself up and got himself ready this morning,” she said. Auburn resident Brandon Zanoni’s daughter, Sophia, was not quite as excited about letting her parents go. “She’s hesitant,” Zanoni said. “She’s not quite 5 yet. (Coming to school) was all right. She was excited, just hesitant.” Zanoni said he thought his daughter would definitely be able to adjust and that the experience of his first child starting kindergarten “makes me feel old.” Ashley Boyles, Sophia’s mom, said the Auburn Elementary experience had already been a good one, with the teachers being nice and helpful. New Auburn residents Brooke and Zach Taylor watched their third child, Shaylee, start kindergarten. “We, as parents, are thrilled,” Brooke Taylor said. “I know she will definitely have a blast. She was excited on her way here, and then she got anxious when we got to the door.” The Taylors said they are excited to live close enough to school after their move from Meadow Vista to walk with their children in the morning. Alyssa Maldonado’s son, Josiah, was also starting kindergarten Wednesday. “He is 100 percent excited,” Maldonado said. “He is not nervous at all. He already knows the teacher because it was the same teacher (my older son and daughter had). I was feeling guilty as we were saying, ‘OK, we gotta go,’ and he was like, ‘OK, goodbye.’” Maldonado said the school’s preparation of the kindergartners is helpful. “The orientation was good, because he got to see who is in his class,” she said. “It’s just the day before, kind of warming up.” Auburn Elementary kindergarten teacher Jeff Bagwell said for the most part students are excited, and those who are shy tend to warm up quickly. “We ask the parents to drop the students off at the door and be on the way, because sometimes it’s harder for the child to let go,” Bagwell said. “That makes it easier.” Lisa McBroom, who teaches an afternoon kindergarten class at Auburn Elementary, said the students’ reactions to starting school run the gambit from being completely excited to being in tears and not wanting to leave their parents. “I had a little one last year that cried probably for the first two weeks of school,” McBroom said. “It was pretty emotional for mom to let go, because her daughter was crying.” McBroom said the girl then got used to the class and was fine. McBroom said there was also a little boy who would run out of the classroom after his mom for the first couple of days before he adjusted. McBroom said she thinks the start of kindergarten has a positive impact on students and families. “I think that kindergarten is an exciting year,” she said. “It’s a child’s introduction to the school year, and it’s an exciting time for everyone.” As class began in teacher Karen Essig’s room Wednesday morning, Essig asked the students gathered around her who was ready to start kindergarten. Her question was met with a resounding response of, “I was.” Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------ Has kindergarten changed this year? Kindergarten enrollment has gone up this year, according to Michele Schuetz, superintendent of the Auburn Union School District. Schuetz said kindergarten enrollment, including junior kindergarten, is currently up about 53 kids. Schuetz said the district is still trying to keep kindergarten classes at about 20-23 students per class, and the district will not place more than 24 students in a class. This year’s kindergarten language arts curriculum has more options for subgroups that need intervention, high achiever subgroups and English language learners. The curriculum for kindergartners is from the Treasures program from McGraw-Hill. It encompasses reading, grammar and writing, Schuetz said. Schuetz said although there were some teary-eyed parents dropping off their students Wednesday, kindergarten classes throughout the district had a good day. “I just walked into all the classes and kids are excited to be there, and teachers are excited to be there,” she said. “The kids were there and ready to learn. We actually had a very smooth start in our kindergarten classes today.”