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On Day 1, it's parents who aren't so tough
But the kids are fine. About 250 started the school year at the new Gulf Trace Elementary.
By MICHELLE MILLER, Times Staff Writer
Published August 21, 2007
School psychologist intern Carla Anderson helps to direct students to their correct class assignments at the bus loading area in front of Trinity Elementary School in New Port Richey.
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
Shana Tays gives her son Daniel, 5, a goodbye kiss as she drops him off on his first day of kindergarten at Gulf Trace Elementary School.
TRINITY - Tears, like a yawn, can be catching.
That's just what Shana Tays was afraid of when she escorted her son Daniel Pate, 5, into his classroom on the first day of school.
Kindergarten is a big deal and Tays had long prepared her only son for this big moment. She even brought her own mom, Connie Tewksbury, for support.
But come Monday morning, Tays took one look at another mom, Jennifer Anttila, 38, who was dropping off her son Connor, 5. Then the waterworks started.
"I saw her put her sunglasses on because she started crying and that was it for me," said Tays, 24, as she dabbed her eyes with a tissue. "I was afraid that if one kid started crying that it would start a chain reaction. But it wasn't the kids. It was the moms."
The kids were fine. Both were immersed in coloring after learning where backpacks and lunch boxes should go and finding their very own desks.
Daniel and Connor are first-time students at the newly opening Gulf Trace Elementary.
About 250 students are starting out the school year at Gulf Trace, which is temporarily being housed in portable classrooms on the Trinity Elementary campus. In January, after construction on Gulf Trace's campus is completed, the students and teachers will move again.
This year's opening will help ease crowding at Sunray Elementary in Holiday, said Gulf Trace Principal Hope Schooler. Roughly 400 more students from Mittye P. Lock and Gulfside Elementary are expected to join the current crop of students for the 2008-09 school year.
This is the second year Trinity Elementary is the home for two schools. During the first part of the 2006-07 school year, students from Trinity Oaks Elementary - most of whom had previously attended Trinity Elementary - were also housed in portables there.
"For us it's kind of old hat," said Trinity principal Kathryn Rushe. "We're comfortable with it. We did this well last year. We do a good job of sharing our facility."
Still, this is a little different, said Schooler, who along with her staff will be seeing students and parents through two new school transitions in one year.
"We've tried to put things in place that are going to make them very comfortable," said Schooler. Those efforts include a fairly well attended parent information night, a kindergarten camp, newsletters and up-to-date construction pictures on the school's Web site.
Things seemed to run pretty smoothly Monday morning, said media specialist Kathy Kupczyk, who was greeting Gulf Trace students and camera-toting parents at a side entrance while Trinity folks filed in the front.
"At first I thought it was a little strange that some of the parents were showing up without their kids," she said. "But a lot of them put their kids on the buses and followed the buses to school."
And some hung around for the "Boo-Hoo Breakfast" for parents dropping off their kids for the first time.
Shana Tays and Jennifer Anttila did some motherly bonding there, comparing notes over glazed doughnuts and orange juice. Both of their sons are a bit introverted. Both worried that the boys wouldn't tell the teacher if they needed to go to the bathroom, so they packed an extra set of clothes just in case.
"They should probably have a counseling session instead of a breakfast," said Anttila, who had a double dose of tears because her daughter, Kaila Boudewyn, 14, was also heading off to her first year at Mitchell High.
"These are big stages," Anttila said.
Michele Miller can be reached at 869-6251 or toll free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6251. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org