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Parents prepare to send kids back to school

Parents and children stood in line Friday afternoon waiting to attend Open House at Westside Elementary School. Soon the halls were flooded with anxious parents and excited children.

The Demopolis City Schools has a process for easing the separation of parents and children attending kindergarten, said Barbara Hill, counselor/coordinator at Westside. The process begins with a pre-school clinic in the spring. Their reading and knowledge levels are tested, she said.

In addition, "for the last four years, there has been a pre-school program in the summer, and we invite all the children to come. This year we had the biggest attendance we’ve ever had." Almost 100 students attended the summer program.

The children are also allowed to play on the playground, and stories are read to them.

The majority of modern kindergarten students have already acclimated in a pre-school program. Only one kid cried one day during the summer program, she said.

There are 10 or 11 kindergarten teachers at Westside, Hill said, with 18 kids expected per classroom.

During the kindergarten year, the students become familiar with reading, music and learning their letters. "They do a lot more with phonics than they used to," Hill said.

Parent Amy Duckett said at Friday’s Open House that her son Jack was "a little nervous, but I think he’ll be all right." He had attended Wee School, and his mother said one problem was "he just didn’t want to change schools. That was a big thing." Jack was too busy playing on the rug in Mrs. Betty Stephens’ class to verbalize any fears he might have had.

In regards to adjusting to school, Stephens said each student is a different case. "Some are really shy," she said, "and it takes them a good while to get used to school.

Adam Brooker was in teacher Amy Hasty’s classroom with his mother Diane. "He’s so excited," she said. "He’s counting down the hours until he gets to be here, literally. We’re anxiously awaiting FedEx to bring his book bag, and he said he’d just stay here until Monday."

Adam attended Tender Years pre-school. "They brought him over one day," his mother said, "and they took them to lunch, went to the playground and the library…to get them accustomed to it. Plus, having an older brother and sister who have always been at school (helps him adjust).

Rosa Reese attended the open house with her grandson Coby Lewis. "He is kind of scared," she said. "…Mrs. Clem (his teacher) is a wonderful person. I think he’s going to do fine." Coby shook his head that he wasn’t scared