Looking forward to learning

Enthusiastic Lee students ring in first day of classes
Aug. 26, 2013 @ 05:33 PM

Nadia Berryman and Paxton Davis were too shy to talk about their first day of kindergarten Monday at J.R. Ingram Elementary School, but their parents swore the two 5-year-old girls were looking forward to being school kids now.

"It was great," Amy Davis, Paxton's mom, said of the first day. "She's excited, so I'm excited."

Tiwana Reid, Nadia's mom, said Nadia also had a good time.

"She was a little scared this morning," Reid said. "But she got into the flow of it."

Brandy Parker, Ingram's lead kindergarten teacher, said the school's approximately 120 kindergarten students spent their very first day of school being read books, identifying colors, practicing writing their names, doing manual tasks like cutting pieces of paper, and learning how to stand in line and follow directions as a class.

Parker said the most important thing about kindergarten is to let children know early on that they're important, special and loved, and to prepare them to succeed throughout the rest of their schooling.

"I am here to teach them what the state tells me to, but also to teach them about our world and do anything I can to help them," she said. "That's why I started — to make a difference."

At the other end of the spectrum, seniors at the county's two traditional high schools had their final first day of school. Lee Early College started earlier this month.

"I was nervous, and I was very excited at the same time," said 17-year-old Hunter Riggins, a senior at Southern Lee High School. "There were a bunch of emotions going through my head.

"I'm going to be a grown up," she continued, explaining why she felt nervous. "I'm going to have to start doing stuff on my own. But it was exciting that I got to come back and see all my friends and teachers I haven’t seen this summer."

And 17-year-old Madison Hunter, a senior at Lee County High School, said she'll be missing her friends who graduated last year but is also glad to be back.

"This morning it felt like any other day, but once I got to school, it was like, 'Whoa — this is my last first day," Hunter said.

She's eager for good final seasons with the Yellow Jackets volleyball and soccer teams, she said, as well as classes like PEPI, in which she and her classmates will spend time at Floyd L. Knight and various elementary schools around the county.

"I'm looking forward to getting ready for college, pretty much," Hunter said. "I want to be an occupational therapist, but I'm not sure where I want to go yet."

Riggins said she wants to be a nurse, so she's especially excited for a nursing fundamentals class Southern Lee offers. However, it's only taught in the spring, so she said she has a while to wait — but that the wait should at least keep her from slacking off too much.

Meanwhile, the volleyball and softball player will be nursing an injured ankle to try to be ready to play soon. She said the teams ought to be good, and she thinks this year will be fun.

"I always looked forward to being the big woman on campus," she said.