Trace Poston was all in as he explored the alphabet blocks in the Wateree Elementary kindergarten class late last week.
Classes hadn’t begun, but the youngster was already making himself at home among the mixture of colorful educational tools.
Anxious? Anything but, his parents said of the prospects of their first child becoming a full-time student.
“He’s excited,” Jamie Poston said as he and his wife, Melanie, toured their son’s classroom.
School officials wouldn’t have it any other way.
Wateree Elementary was among several Kershaw County schools to hold Back to School nights to acquaint (or reacquaint) students and parents with the landscape before opening day bells rang. It’s a practice followed by that district – where classes begin today – and many others that find such events make for a smoother transition from summer back to the classroom.
“One of the biggest benefits of back-to-school night is that students have time to walk through the school with their parents and become familiar with the campus and the location of their homeroom, helping to eliminate the fear of being in the wrong place on the first day of school,” said Wateree principal, Gail Stehle. “Young children, in particular, generally adapt better to coming to school if their parents have attended back-to-school night and show that they are comfortable with the environment.”
While checking out their children’s school quarters for the coming nine months, parents quizzed teachers about everything from the type of tests that will be given to what kind of snacks are needed for classroom birthday parties.
Kayla Ellison was among those parents. She and her son, Hunter Ray, toured his first-grade classroom.
“My baby is growing up,” Ellison said. “I’m very emotional, but he loves this school.”
William Harrison said the drop-in will be helpful for his son, Matthew, going into the year.
“He’s excited to get back to school,” Harrison said, adding he was most interested in getting the schedule for the year and knowing the school’s guidelines.
Across the district, the formats for similar evenings varied from school to school, but most provided an opportunity for parents to visit classrooms and have one-on-one time with teachers.
While exposing students to their new surroundings, many schools used the opportunity to flex their academic strengths.
Wateree Elementary has won the state Palmetto Silver Award for academic improvement three years running, something Stehle said the school staff won’t be keeping a secret.
“Our very professional and competent teachers strive to ensure that students have the most thorough, meaningful education possible to prepare them for middle school while making Wateree Elementary a source of pride for the community,” she said.