WINGATE — Students arriving for their first day of the year at Wingate Elementary School this morning encountered a cheerful doorman.
“Hey guys, how are you doing?” Principal James Orichosky said to backpack-toting children stepping off their buses in front of the school entrance. “How are you today?”
After that, his staff took over the bustling annual drill carried out today in schools throughout the Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte Area and Penns Valley Area districts.
In a flurry of motion, Wingate teachers and aides welcomed back children, directing them to the right staging rooms. Nancy Watkins, an aide, played traffic cop inside the front door.
“First grade? Go to the library,” she said to one boy confused about his destination.
Kindergartners — some looking bewildered, a few in tears — assembled in the cafeteria initially before moving on to their first classroom.
In kindergarten teacher Mary Price's room, students completed their first assignment -- a picture worksheet called "Off to School" that asked them to arrange three morning chores, including waving goodbye to a parent, in order.
They also learned how to respond to their teacher's request for attention. "Class, class, class," Price said. "Yes, yes, yes," the students chimed.
Price said she asked her new students if they were nervous that morning. Some admitted yes.
"I said, 'Guess what? I'm a little nervous too,' " Price said.
Ruth Rhodes, a health aide and office assistant who has worked 22 first days, said they’re always an adjustment for teachers also after the summer break.
“By next week, everything will be settled,” she said. “It just takes us a while to get back into the routine.”