Kindergartner enjoys first glimpse of school

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Clarence Hayes ran eagerly into his classroom Monday, ready to begin his kindergarten school year at West Primary School.

Clarence, decked out in a crisp, new school uniform, had no problem finding his class.

The sight of Marilyn Woods, a teacher assistant he knew from last year, pointed him in the right direction.

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&uot;Hey, Ms. Woods,&uot; he called and ran to give her a hug.

&uot;Hey Monterro,&uot; he said to his cousin and fellow classmate.

In just a few minutes, Woods helped Clarence attach a name tag to his burgundy shirt. He did some computer work while waiting for class to start.

&uot;He loves to go to school,&uot; said his mother, Kathy Hayes. &uot;He gets excited about going.&uot;

Hayes drove her son to school Monday and escorted him into the building.

Clarence attended West Primary’s preschool program last year. He is excited to have some of the same children in his class this year, his mother said. &uot;(He’s) just excited to see his friends,&uot; she said. &uot;He’s willing to learn and hates to get into trouble.&uot;

Clarence, the son of Kathy and Clarence Hayes of Kingston, is one of hundreds of new kindergartners in the Miss-Lou.

Many schools, including Natchez-Adams County School District’s West Primary, begin school this week.

And while changes throughout the district include completed renovations at elementary schools, a new ninth-grade &uot;school within a school&uot; at Natchez High and the possibility of a daytime curfew, Clarence and his classmates were just learning the rules of the game.

Only five of Clarence’s 22 classmates attended school Monday. The school likes to orient kindergartners a small group at a time, adding a few more to the class each day of the first week. This is easier on both the students and the teachers, said Clarence’s teacher, Tina Rollins.

&uot;We introduce (the first day’s children) to some work and tomorrow they can practice it while we are introducing some more children,&uot;&160;Rollins said.

By Friday, the entire class will be in place.

Rollins and Woods began Monday’s class discussing the classroom rules.

&uot;Clarence, I&160;bet you can tell me what a rule is,&uot; Rollins said. &uot;Isn’t your daddy a policeman? Doesn’t he make people follow the rules?&uot;

Clarence nodded in agreement.

Rules are like laws, Rollins told the class.

The first rule the students learned was to obey their teacher.&160;This does not just include herself and Ms. Woods, Rollins told the class.

&uot;Any adult that works at West Primary, we obey them,&uot; she said.

Other rules included raising hands, no teasing and keeping hands, feet and objects to themselves.

The student all recited these rules back to Rollins.

Rollins also talked to the students about the correct and safe way to sit on the floor. She taught them a &uot;Good Morning&uot; song that required each student to stand up answer &uot;Fine, thank you&uot; when their name was called.

Rollins also helped them do stretches and neck exercises.

&uot;Makes me dizzy,&uot;&160;Clarence said.

The class then sang more songs, listened to a story about the alphabet and practiced the proper way to unfold a rug for working on the floor.

Clarence took great pains with this task. He carefully laid out his rug, smoothing out every wrinkle.

&uot;Oh, Ms. Woods, our job is going to be easy,&uot;&160;Rollins said.

The class did a butterfly clap in honor of Clarence’s good job.

They then got into a line to go to the cafeteria for breakfast. But they didn’t leave the room until Clarence and his classmates learned the &uot;lip and hip&uot; method of walking down the hallway.

&uot;Place a finger on your lip to remind you to be quiet, and the other hand goes on your hip,&uot; Rollins said.

After breakfast, Clarence watched closely as Woods taught the students some activities. These included making specified patterns with pegs and cubs.

&uot;That’s a ‘T,’&uot; Clarence said of the cube pattern. &uot;It’s like a ‘T.’&uot;

Other Monday activities included recess, lunch, nap time and finally afternoon dismissal at 3 p.m.

Clarence said he was looking forward to his first chance to ride the school bus.

Like other West students, Clarence must ride the bus to McLaurin Elementary, where he will get on another bus to take him home.

This can be confusing for the students, but the staff makes sure every child finds their bus these first few weeks.

&uot;We have ladies that go over with them and help them switch buses,&uot; Woods said.

Clarence said he enjoyed his first day of kindergarten. His favorite activity was playing with the Playschool playhouse, he said.