First School Day Brings Many Emotions

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For 5-year-old Ignacio Valdez, the first day of school was a bit trying.

A new kindergarten student in Jamie Goldman's class at Payson Elementary School, Ignacio didn't want to be left at school Wednesday without his mom.

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Mrs. Nancy Wright's first-grade class stands and recites the Pledge of Allegiance before any other activities are begun at Payson Elementary Wednesday morning.

"Today hasn't been too easy on him," his mother, Mindy Valdez, said.

Help was quick to come.

When PES Principal Will Dunman heard that Ignacio was in tears, he went to comfort the boy.

He also promised to keep an eye on Ignacio and said his mother could stay with him as long as she thought necessary.

Valdez appreciated the gesture from the school's top administrator.

"I was in an accident three months ago," she said, "and he (Ignacio) has wanted to stay real close to me ever since."

Although she had permission to stay at school, Valdez said, she thought it was better to go home and let Ignacio adjust. She didn't want to be a distraction.

Dunman's promise to keep an eye on Ignacio made her feel comfortable about leaving her son at school for the first time.

"I'm still a little worried, but I feel better knowing Principal Dunman will take care of him," she said.

Although the first day of school can cause a touch of anxiety in younger children, one district teacher, Nancy Wright, reported Wednesday that "everything has gone quite well" at Payson Elementary School.

A first-grade teacher at Payson Elementary, Wright said, "The kids are adjusting fine and, since today and tomorrow are only half-days for kindergartners, they won't be here so long they will get bored, homesick and irritable," Wright said.

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Katie Hoff's second-grade class at Payson Elementary colors in apples during an exploratory assignment. Having students color the apples is a creative way for Hoff to discover the likes and dislikes of the children, and will help as a guide for future assignments.

Adjusting to school schedules was a common subject for many local parents Wednesday.

Payson resident Brigit Kovacs, whose 5-year-old son, Jesse, also is a new student in Goldman's class said, "We got up and took a shower, ate breakfast, got Jesse's backpack ready, and I put him on the bus to school."

But there was a final check.

"Then I got in my car and drove here (Payson Elementary School) to meet him when he got off the bus."

Kovacs said Jesse hadn't been on a school bus before, but he seemed to do just fine.

She and Jesse had toured the school about three weeks ago to help him with the adjustment.

"At first, he was a little nervous," Kovacs said, "but after he saw all the stuff here, like the playground, the computers and gymnasium, he began to get excited about coming to school."

To ease the first-day jitters Wednesday, some students at Frontier Elementary School students found that a story had helped.

Some kindergarten students said they had read a story called "The Kissing Hand," which made them feel less nervous about being away from their mothers.

"We read a story about a raccoon that got a kiss on his hand and it stayed there all day," one kindergartner said.

The story, he said, told how he could hold on to the kiss his mother gave him all day long. The kiss lasted until she picked him up.

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