LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. – Benton Hall Academy Principal Joseph Long summed up what it will mean for many kindergarten students when they arrive for their first day of school next week.
"It’s a big day," he said.
To get ready for that big day, Long, teachers and other faculty and staff members welcomed incoming kindergarteners and their parents to school on Thursday for its annual orientation.
"Our goal is for the child and the parents to feel at ease," said Long. "We’re a wonderful school, with wonderful teachers and wonderful students."
Long said he told the parents at the beginning of the orientation how his remembers when his own son started kindergarten and is now a college graduate.
"It goes by fast," he said.
Signs for the "Kindergarten Kickoff" were posted at the front entrance of the district office building, with crayon-shaped signs with each teacher’s name pointing in the direction of the auditorium where the orientation was being held.
After a welcome from Long, students were dismissed with their teachers to the classroom while Long spoke with parents some more in the auditorium. This time also included comments from the school district’s food service coordinator, the school’s Parent Teacher Council representative and the safety manager for Little Falls-Fonda Bus Garage.
Later, parents were dismissed and met with their child in their new classroom. There, teachers gave more instruction about the classroom to the parents and went through the various forms and paperwork that may need to be completed. They also helped their child find their cubby and mailbox in the classroom.
In Stacey Barnett’s classroom, students had a chance to color a picture of a box of crayons during the visit, including Bryson Doxstader.
"He’s so excited," said Erin Korce, his mother. "He’s being waiting to start kindergarten ever since his older sister started."
Though she’s been through the kindergarten orientation before, Korce said she appreciates doing it again.
"It’s always good to have a refresher," she said. "It answered a lot of my concerns."
Dana Lockwood also said it wasn’t her first time going through the orientation.
"I’m excited. This is my third, so I’m not nervous anymore," she said.
Lockwood said her son Ethan, however, is "a little nervous" about starting.
"He did pre-K, so this is the same building…he’s excited," she said.
Lockwood also said the orientation was helpful.
"It makes me more confident," she said. "I really like that the school is so open" for asking questions, she added.
Long said they have roughly 95 students who will be starting kindergarten this year, which is a bit higher than average for the school.
"We have five sections this year. We added another section," he said.
Besides the visit to the auditorium and the classroom, the orientation included a visit to the school cafeteria, where students got to go through the lunch line and pick up a healthy snack, and a 25 minute bus ride.