This past week included the annual Kindergarten Round-Up for Nederland Elementary, and Kristina and I found it to be quite the informative affair.
(Even if I was slightly disappointed at the complete lack of lassos involved.)
But first, I must make sure you are aware that this particular elementary school just so happens to be the exact same one I started my school career at 21 years ago, and which I haven't been back inside of in at least 18 long years. So I had ever so few trepidations about re-entering this building for the very ironic reason of sending my own offspring off to Kindergarten.
We began with a tour graciously hosted by a pair of 5th graders from the peer leadership program (note to self, put Kristina in the peer leadership program), and I was surprised by how everything was simultaneously familiar and confusing as hell. I'm still not sure I could find the art room again, despite clearly remembering that we met for brownies in it the moment I walked stepped inside, and it's really damn hard to observe things as an objective parent when all you can think is whatever horrible childhood trauma happened in that room.
For example, I cannot tell you what form of piano was in the music room (was there even a piano?? be dammed if I know....), because I was too busy remembering how I tried to get a couple friends to sign up for the talent show with me (I was going to play my recorder. I'm sure I had seriously badass 5-year-old recorder skills, and would have been the Hot Cross Buns star of the night) and then they ditched out on me at the last second IN THAT EXACT MUSIC ROOM.
And I had the overwhelming urge to ask whether the old computers that had been replaced just last year in the computer lab with new ones could have been the ones I used twenty years ago. Part of me thinks it's highly unlikely, as they were really pretty lame even then (I had to use the non-colored version of Microsoft Paint to draw pictures!!), but then I see the absolute unchanged-ness of everything else in that school.......
But anyways, eventually we made it back to the little cafeteria where we got to eat pizza and Kristina whined about there not being soda to drink.
(Sorry kiddo. Remember the time when you were a toddler and we were visiting the grandparents out here and you wanted to share that other kid's snack when we were at Gymboree and it turned out to be whole grain oat crackers and organic cranberries and you thought it was shit and you tired to hand your half chewed mouthful back to him? And then we went out to New York and all the other moms kept pantries fully stocked with Oreos and Capri Suns and you thought that was seriously awesome? Yeah, we're back to healthy Colorado now..... you should just be glad they served regular pizza and not sushi.)
Then they herded all the children into the gym and herded all the parents down to the Kindergarten classroom for the big orientation.
(Interesting side note: Kindergarten classroom chairs totally felt big after sitting on the preschool ones for a board meeting a few nights prior. Tiny chairs are all relative, I guess.)
The principal at the school just started this past fall, but seemed like a decent enough sort. He also has a couple little kiddos himself, including one going into the very same Kindergarten class as Kristina, so I suspect he may be very involved with the little ones for the next few years and I'm ok with that.
The Kindergarten teacher herself was just enthralling. I think Kristina will do well with her, which is a nice feeling to have even if it's hard to objectively say why I came to that conclusion.
As there is only half day Kindergarten at this point, there is also the Kindergarten Enrichment program which serves to create a full school day for the little ones, and it's taught by another slightly-less-awesome-seeming teacher. However, her classroom had a sandtable set up with My Little Ponies, including several from the 80s and two of decent rarity/collector value from when they first came out in 2003, so she can't be that horrible of a human being.
So Kristina's day will be split, with half being in one classroom as official Kindergarten, and the rest being spent in the Kindergarten Enrichment room next door.
You know, assuming I get her signed up in time and can work out all the financial issues as they most certainly charge for the extra time at school. However, they said that it is covered by CCAP (the assistance program the girls use right now to cover childcare) and that there are scholarships available, so I'm hoping that cost won't be a concern beyond getting the right paperwork done.
We also heard from the school nurse, who did a very politically correct little speech about how the school is PRO immunizations (you hear that hippies??) but that there is a waver that can be signed if you choose not to for personal, religious, or medical reasons. Kristina is totally up-to-date on all her shots, but I did have the thought that it might *almost* be easier to just sign a waver. And then she also said that school quarantines the non-immunized kids and doesn't let them attend if there is an outbreak of something like whooping cough, so the implications of her missing a month of school suddenly made the paperwork hassle seem worth it.
The main office person talked quite a bit about various policies at the school, how registration works, and all the assorted contingencies that go along with things. She seemed to be the one that pretty much ran the school. I have a lot of respect for the people in those roles, and hopefully will find her as helpful as she seemed to be during the upcoming school year.
And then, we got the district school bus director (or whatever his exact title was). The idea of just sending my child off on the school bus was rather stressful to me, however after he went over everything I started to feel a little better.
The Kindergarteners MUST sit up front by the bus driver, and he very clearly stated that if there is a big sibling who wants to sit with them, then they too will be sitting up front. The Kindergartners are met by the Kindergarten and Kindergarten Enrichment teachers just inside the school doors for the first month or two upon drop off. The Kindergarten and Kindergarten Enrichment teachers take the Kindergartners out to the buses at the end of the day and make sure that each child gets on the correct bus. The bus drivers have lists of the children who should be on their bus. Any changes to bus schedules (such as going home with a friend) must be communicated to the school at least a day ahead of time in writing. The bus driver will NOT let the Kindergarteners off the bus if someone is not at the stop to pick them up. They WILL radio the school, who will try and contact the parents while the bus continues the rest of it's route. If nobody is there to pick up the Kindergarteners on the return pass, the bus will take them back to the school and deposit them into the care of the office staff.
So yeah, all that "we know who your child is and WILL BE keeping tabs on them" stuff really did make me feel better.
And then he began to mention that their system for sending out bus schedule notifications is complete crap and most people never even get theirs.....
It was an informative night, and I was quite proud of myself for being able n hich they were clustered on in the Kindergarten classroom and getting in trouble for picking my nose and wiping it on said steps.
(My mother recently mentioned that she ran into my Kindergarten teacher, who is presently pursuing becoming principal certified, and I just don't know if I could handle professional meetings with someone whose most prominent memory of mine involves them scolding me about boogers, so I'm kinda hoping she doesn't become Nederland Elementary principal until my kids are through or I manage to gain a lot of maturity and start feeling like an adult.)
And Kristina just had a blast with the whole thing. When I returned to the gym to retrieve her, she had made several new friends of whom I had to pry her away from. I then took her down to the Kindergarten classroom, for even though it had been a stop on our tour we didn't have the chance to actually look around at all, and she was all set to spend the night there exploring everything in depth.
Now we just need to wait another 7 and a half months......