A second-grade classroom was silent in the first hours of school Monday, save for the teacher.
“Here’s the sign language for walking,” said teacher Tammy Rademacher at Lalumier Elementary in Centreville, demonstrating the sign that her 20-some students mimicked. “Here’s sitting down...”
Laurie Wobbe’s slightly larger second-grade class down the hall was just as silent, intent on the intricacies of how pencil cases will work this year.
“You’ll have eight pencils in your pencil case every Monday morning,” Wobbe said. “Sharpened. So you don’t have to get up during class, just quietly get in your desk for a pencil.”
Kelly Blunt’s kindergarten class was figuring out which line to be in — bathroom, drink or done with both. When another class walked by, one of Blunt’s new students started to walk off with them.
“You’re one of mine, get back there!” she said with a laugh.
The first days of school are more about setting procedures than anything else, Lalumier Principal Cynthia Schaefer says, like not using a pencil sharpener during class and knowing where to go.
Schaefer taught at Lalumier for several years and is a familiar presence in the halls and classrooms. Buss spent the first morning of school visiting each classroom, inviting the students to ask her any three questions.
“The most frequent was, ‘How tall are you?’” she said.
All but 10 of Henry Raab’s 176 enrolled students were at school the first morning, with Buss crediting an open house last week and a phone call to District 118 parents the night before.
Lalumier has similar enrollment numbers, 179 at the most recent count Friday, and 133 students were in attendance Monday. One of them was withdrawn at about 9:30 a.m., with his mother explaining that they were on the Maplewood Elementary School bus route. With a teary face, the boy stopped in the office to hug school secretary Terri Latta.
“I don’t want you to go either, buddy ... but you know what? Maplewood is a cool school,” she told him, asking his mother if she could give him a kiss goodbye.
Latta had said earlier, “trying to get everybody where they’re supposed to be is always a challenge.” She had a list of parents to call to double-check if their students were to be picked up or going to a daycare after school.
Henry Raab teachers Kim Showalter and Nicole Deihl had students trace one another’s arms and hands, to later draw in things that they revealed about themselves, Showalter said. The posters will soon hang in the hallways for the fourth, fifth and sixth graders to see every day.
“We always do a get-to-know-you activity, but never this one,” Showalter said during a raucous event. Later this week, the fourth, fifth and sixth grade teachers will each do an activity with another’s class, which helps teachers get to know students at the small school even better.
Deihl is teaching fifth grade at Henry Raab for the first year, but she isn’t a new teacher nor is she new to the older students, who remembered her from her student teaching days. She has her activity later this week all planned out.
Students will pretend they’re on a deserted island, she said, and will be in teams. They’ll have three minutes to decide how to proceed before building a shelter of newspaper and tape.
“They’re not allowed to talk once the building gets started,” Deihl said.
And the answer to the most-frequently asked question of Buss? She’s 6 feet tall and has been since about the fourth grade, she said.