Smiling faces return to classrooms (PHOTOS)

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BELHAVEN — Janet Cutler, an office receptionist at Pungo Christian Academy, always has extra Kleenex available on the first day of school. PCA students returned to school Monday, and, as always, she put the box to use.
“I didn’t have crying children yesterday, but I had a few crying parents,” she laughed.
It wasn’t just the parents of new kindergarten students shedding tears, but parents of seniors, too. The parents warned Cutler not to use the dreaded “s word”: senior.
Kindergarten students Sophie Best and Kasey Keech were happy to be back for a second day Tuesday.
“Guess what I did? I helped someone up from the basketball floor,” Keech reported to Cutler.
Playing in the gym was Keech’s favorite part of the day.
“I liked the shaving cream,” said Best.
Her teacher, Donna Johnson, sprayed shaving cream on students’ desks and let them use their fingers to practice writing their names in the foam.
Of the 21 new preschoolers at PCA, only two cried. Preschool administrator Linda Boyd said that was good news, especially since it did
not become a chain reaction.
“Yesterday was one of the best first days we ever had,” Boyd said Tuesday. “It’s still going remarkably smoothly.”
Terra Ceia Christian School students returned to school Tuesday. Despite a short day that started with a breakfast for students and parents and ended at noon, the upper grades attended every class period. A few of those classes were with new principal, Jason Wynne. He will teach biology, computer science and Bible this semester.
Between classes, Wynne had a short conversation with first-grade teacher Jeanne VanStaalduinen and kindergarten teacher Deb VanStaalduinen. The topic: how would students address him, as Mr. Wynne or Mr. Jason?
“Either is fine. They’re better than a lot of things I’ve been called,” he quipped.
The VanStaalduinens went with Mr. Wynne.
The kindergarten students got to know one another with show-and-tell. Each brought souvenirs from summer travels. Each also had plenty of questions for his or her teacher.
“Why did the bell ring?,” asked Ellie Noles.
Despite the unaccustomed interruptions of bells throughout the day, Noles said she was enjoying herself.
“It’s fun in here,” she said.
She got to see classmate Haven Jordan’s clamshells from Myrtle Beach and listened to classmate Ocean Lynn’s tales of seeing a monkey at the beach.
“They are really precious,” said their teacher. “As precious as they can be.”
Across the hall, first-graders got to know one another with a game that was a cross between a game of hot potato and concentration. They passed around a can until the music stopped, introduced themselves, answered questions about themselves and repeated facts they had just learned about classmates.
Teacher Jeanne VanStaalduinen was impressed by their behavior and their abilities to recall the information. She complimented the students and explained how they benefited from the exercise.
“We’re telling something good about ourselves, but we have to have good listening skills, too,” she said.
Seventh-grader Madison Boyd was glad to be back amongst friends. She said the best part of the day was meeting all of the new people.
And there were quite a few of them. Wynne said enrollment is up and the school is still accepting new students.
“Overall, it’s been a great start. We’re definitely up from last year’s enrollment,” he said. “We’re growing. And that’s a good thing.”