Raise your hand if you’re ready to go back to school

Friday, August 3, 2018
On the first day of school in Putnam County Friday morning, Fillmore Elementary kindergarten teacher Carmen Cash instructs her students on classroom protocol.
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

FILLMORE -- It’s only the first hour of the first day but already it’s so obvious that Carmen Cash is so-o-o-o-o patient.

The kids in her 24th Filmore Elementary School kindergarten class are fidgety. They’ve been given a little cup of LEGOS to keep them busy and help break the ice, giving them something to talk about as they observe each other’s creations while those awkward first moments of their public school lives pass before their eyes.

Mrs. Cash is explaining, in almost excruciating detail to anyone older than six, how her students are to put their nametags beneath a heading dividing a list of those buying their lunch and those bringing their lunch each day. But before she’s through elaborating on that point, a boy’s hand shoots up.

Kindergartner Harley Hole (below left) rushes to greet Principal Debbie Steffy and show off her Cinderella shoes as the 2018-19 school year gets under way in the South Putnam School Corporation. Meanwhile, Cloverdale students go back on Tuesday, Aug. 7, while Greencastle and North Putnam classes resume Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Banner Graphic/Eric Bernsee

He’s not concerned with brown bags or cafeteria trays, however.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” he says quietly, earning the teacher’s praise for courteously and dutifully raising his hand to ask. This is the first day of school, remember.

No sooner has Mrs. Cash voiced her praise then a half-dozen other hands shoot up.

All belong to boys. “Ooow-ooow!” You can almost hear the Horshack in their cries for recognition.

“Let’s go one at a time,” she politely replies, apparently unaware of the inherent pun in her response.

Independent of the bathroom brigade, a little girl hoists her hand.

“When do we get to go outside?” she wants to know.

Never mind that it’s not even 8:30 a.m. yet, and pouring down rain outside besides.

“We call that recess,” Mrs. Cash notes, ever instructing the class.

And no doubt this morning, recess will mean a visit to the historic Fillmore gym where the Cardinals once ruled the Putnam County basketball world.

Teaching kindergarten obviously involves a lot of passing out tasks and sharing menial duties that make the youngsters feel important and aid their socialization and interaction. Today it’s time to pick someone to take the plastic bag with attendance and lunch information to school secretary Penny Long in the office down the hall.

Mrs. Cash chooses a rather shy-looking little fellow for the task and quickly deputizes Harley, who seems to know her way around the school after practically leaping into Principal Debbie Steffy’s arms earlier to show off her shoes, to go along.

Harley will escort the newbie to the office, although Mrs. Cash didn’t want for options. At least five or six classmates quickly volunteer to go along but must wait their turns to come over time.

Meanwhile, another of the girls is headed for the office, apparently needing a splash of some antiseptic spray to quell the itch of a bug bite, a classroom aide has determined. So it’s 8:30 now and the same girl has already visited the office twice.

Just a few more hours left Friday and 179 more days of school ahead this year.

Nonetheless, school secretary Penny is still happy and smiling.

“Kindergarten is like herding cats the first day,” she laughs.

Raise your hand if you agree ...

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