The first day of school brings mixed emotions for many parents. After having children underfoot all summer, it can be a relief. Yet the idea of not having them there and watching them move on and up can be bittersweet.
In Montgomery County, public and many private elementary, middle and high schools began classes on Aug. 27. The Town Courier asked local parents to weigh-in on their back-to-school experiences.
Kentlands resident Ally Kahler, who ushered youngest son Josh onto the bus for Rachel Carson Elementary School [RCES], had this to say: “It was such a bittersweet moment sending off my youngest of three sons to kindergarten Monday morning. As my heart was filled with delight knowing he would soar through school as his older brothers had, it was also left with a sadness knowing that my baby was flying the coop. The smile on his face as he walked into the building was priceless, though, so I put my tears away, and instead I said, ‘Go get ‘em little man. … The world is your oyster!!’”
Middle school, with its myriad of hallways and classes and locker combinations, is sometimes a big change for children coming from the nurturing environment of elementary school. That adjustment is not always limited to the children, as was verbalized by Lakelands resident Allegra Lindner on her son, Jacob’s, first day at Lakelands Park Middle School (LPMS).
“I was in denial right up until Jacob left for orientation,” she said. “But when I saw him walk out that door and head there on his own, I knew he was going to rock. And probably fare much better through the whole experience than I was.”
High school is a big step for any child, but it can be even more so for a freshman commuting to a private school. Washingtonian Woods resident Margaret Rowe explained, “I’m not sure I am ready for my oldest to start high school yet, but she sure is. Her only complaint, besides a lack of a school supply list to shop for, is riding the bus to Good Counsel every day. She would much rather I just drove her there, but with two other children at home, it is too far for us to commute.”
One can’t begin a school year without a glance back at summer, a fact not lost on Quince Orchard Park resident Carole Valis. Valis has two sons: Angelos, 12, who attends LPMS and Dominic, a fifth grader at Diamond Elementary School.
“Our family is definitely sad the summer is behind us as we had such a fun-filled time with the summer sports and vacations,” she said. “Even though I know my kids are in great hands at their schools, I’m always sad to have the house quiet again during the day. We are looking forward to our fall schedule, which is filled with school, baseball and swimming — never a dull moment!”
The school schedule can present logistical challenges, especially for those who have children in multiple schools. Lakelands resident Melissa Wilson has daughter Jenna starting her freshman year at Quince Orchard High School, son Michael in sixth grade at LPMS and daughter Summer entering kindergarten at RCES.
“I’ve been dreading August 27, 2012, for the past five years,” she said. “When we had our third child, I realized we’d have children starting elementary, middle and high school on the same day and I couldn’t imagine handling all of the emotions associated with those milestones, but the tears have yet to come because everyone is loving life at their new schools! We are so fortunate to have such great schools in the [Quince Orchard] Cluster.”
And finally, what about the approximately 11,000 teachers who are there to greet the students upon their return?
Kentlands resident Tami Henneman, a teacher at Gaithersburg High School said, “My feeling about back-to-school is largely based on the fact that I love my job teaching ESOL and the students, schools and staff I work with. As a result, I look forward to the beginning of a new school year. Certainly having six years teaching experience under my belt has helped eased the anxiety of starting a new school year, but all in all, I think if you like what you do, you look forward to doing it. Conversely, I must add that there is nothing better than counting the last few days before summer vacation!”
Let the countdown to summer vacation begin!