School starts in Albert Lea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2006

By Kari Lucin, staff writer

School, books and teachers&8217; dirty &8212; or happy &8212; looks are back in full force now that school has resumed in Albert Lea.

Kids started to filter into the parking lot at Hawthorne Elementary School by 7:40 a.m. Tuesday, though the bell wasn&8217;t set to ring until 8:10 a.m. A few nervous kindergartners gripped their parents&8217; hand and looked a little bit worried, but most of kids, even the very youngest, looked happy to be starting another year of classes.

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Benjamin Seavey, 7, started second grade, and he was looking forward to starting math classes again.

&8220;It&8217;s my favorite subject,&8221; Seavey said.

Several fifth-graders said they were looking forward to being crossing guards, and of course, pretty much everyone agreed that recess was a lot of fun.

The sun shone brightly Tuesday morning, taking away some of the early morning chill that

blanketed the playground, as kids milled around looking for the rest of the kids in their grades. They didn&8217;t have to look too hard, though, because at Hawthorne every grade had someone with a sign at one of the building&8217;s entrances, ensuring that all the kids in the same grade stayed more or less together until the bell rang.

Hawthorne&8217;s principal, Corrine Tims, stood at the door and helped direct the traffic. Later on, Tims said that everything had gone smoothly that morning.

Some of the kids had backpacks that looked bigger than they were. Flip-flops, culottes and capri pants were in style for the girls, given Tuesday&8217;s good weather. The boys wore the usual T-shirts and jeans, and greeted each other with high fives and lots of grins.

Some parents escorted their kids to the right line. Others waved good-bye from inside cars and SUVs. A few even walked their nervous offspring into the building as the day began.

&8220;All-day kindergarten is a big switch, from two hours of pre-school, that&8217;ll take

a while to adjust to,&8221; said John Bell, whose son Ian, 6, was headed for his very first day of school.

But Bell did say Ian was ready to go to school, along with his brother Cody, a second-grader.

Some older kids were also heading to their first day at a new school.

&8220;We&8217;re actually going to Halverson,&8221; said Katie Williamson, 11, who walked right by Hawthorne on her way to her new school. &8220;We get to meet new people.&8221;

She and her friend Tara Westland are just two of the many fifth-graders whose entire class was shifted to Halverson Elementary School this year as part of an effort to cope with a space crunch at Hawthorne. But both girls sounded excited about the opportunity going to Halverson offered them.

&8220;We get to make new friends, and get an advantage in Southwest,&8221; Westland said, referring to Southwest Middle School. &8220;We get to know more people.&8221;

A few tiny kids too young even for kindergarten milled around, watching their siblings head for school with envious eyes as the bell rang and paraprofessionals and teachers directed lines of kids into the building. Of course, there were a few stragglers who seemed reluctant to head inside from the playground, but they did finally go.

Everything was silent outside. The din of excited kids had moved inside Hawthorne, where kids opened and closed doors and lockers and chatted with each other before class could start for real, ending the freedom of summer and beginning a new year of learning.

The beginning of school can mean something else entirely for parents.

After the kids had all gone into the building, one of the parents pumped her arms in the air and said &8220;We&8217;re free!&8221;