Gorrie Elementary Welcomes Kids, Parents Back to School
It was Day One for students at the Hyde Park Elementary School.
It’s back to the classroom this week for the kids of Hillsborough County.
And at schools like John B. Gorrie Elementary in Hyde Park, a familiar scene played out Tuesday (August 23) as students headed back for the 2011-12 campaign.
Cars and SUVs driving a little too fast pulled up and dropped off their kids. Mobs of kids and parents walked along West deLeon Street to the school’s entrance. Crossing guards stopped traffic, told mom and dad to slow down, and escorted little ones across the street. Student safeties, their fluorescent safety belts nearly blinding, also helped packs of people cross the street. They even opened car doors for students dropped off by their parents.
Crowds milled about the school courtyard as many folks saw each other for the first time since summer vacation. “It’s the big first day,” one parent shouted across the street to his parenting colleagues.
Teachers, with bursting bags of supplies weighing them down, stumbled into the building. Kids toting new backpacks and stuffed lunch bags brought gifts for their new instructors. More than one potted plant made it into Gorrie Elementary on this day.
“It’s fun [this] morning…it’s almost like a parade,” said Mike Matthews, who along with his wife, Jill, dropped off third-grader Henry and fifth-grader Rosie. Every year they photograph their kids before letting them go inside, he said.
“This street that is empty all summer is full of people again,” said Matthews, whose four-year-old Flynn – stretched out in a stroller – will attend kindergarten next year. “We try to drop them off as a family,” Matthews said. That includes puppy Yoshi who’s been missing his morning walk to school,” said Jill Matthews.
Principal Marjorie Sandler – clipboard in one hand, walkie-talkie in the other – greeted parents and students in front of the school. “Good morning! Happy first day.”
“Welcome back,” she said, embracing both adult and child.
Sandler was even checking license plates on cars parked illegally in front of the school building.
Surprisingly, there were no tears or anxious looks. Rather it was all smiles – from the kids, parents, and teachers, even the crossing guards. Many parents seemed more excited than their little ones. Some took photographs of their kids standing in front of the school sign.
“It’s third grade, but it’s still a big deal,” said one woman, the aunt of returning student.
With Gorrie having a kindergarten, some parents were dropping off their kids for the very first time. Emotions ran a little higher for these mommies and daddies.
For first-timers, Sandler and her staff scheduled a “Boo Hoo Breakfast,” an ice-breaker where teachers welcomed, informed and calmed those parents new to the school experience. More than 30 parents gathered in the school cafeteria to hear Principal Sandler and the head of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, Janice Rickert.
“Some parents call it the woo-hoo breakfast [not a Boo Hoo Breakfast],” said Melissa Renninger, who brought her third child – her youngest Jaxson – to kindergarten. “Woo-hoo! Our kids are going off to school.”
Renninger said she was still a little nervous. “Because he’s my last one – the last one to go off to kindergarten,” she said, “I’m having empty-nest syndrome.”
Despite having her third child at Gorrie, there was no woo-hooing for Renninger.
“Today, it’s more of the boo-hoo” said Renninger, “tomorrow may be a little more woo-hoo.”
Steve Barna and his wife moved to Davis Islands just last week. Their daughter Lea is a kindergartner this year. Excited and new, the Boston transplants attended the Boo Hoo Breakfast.
“We didn’t have time to be nervous,” said Barna, “we had to get up at seven o’clock.”
Barna’s wife said she was still a little sad when she peeked through the classroom window and saw daughter Lea standing among her classmates.
Tuesday’s Boo-Hoo Breakfast was a brief one. Parents needed to vacate the cafeteria for incoming kindergartners who needed to be fed breakfast. And the teachers had to get their counts in.
“We have a first-day count, a third-day count, a fifth-day count, and a twenty-day count,” said Sandler. “We have to see how many bodies we have.”
As for day one of the 2011-12 school year at Gorrie Elementary:
“We have a well-oiled machine,” said Principal Sandler.
“We just want to make sure everybody is safe, and they are where they need to be.”