Some kids took immediately to the building blocks and coloring books on the tables. Some made new friends around them. Some simply cried, the new environment around them a bit overwhelming. And there were some tearful parents, too, peeking through the windows to see how their kids were adjusting.
This was Julia A. Stark School's kindergarten orientation, a day of adjusting for both the parents and approximate 120 students expected to show up for the school's six kindergarten classrooms. An this was just a practice run for tomorrow, the first full day of school across all grade levels in Stamford.
"We start a day prior to all the other students coming in so that the children can have a shortened day to meet their teacher and some of the other teachers they'll have like their gym teacher or their music teacher or their art teacher," said Principal Mark Bonasera.
Bonasera is a 20-year veteran to education. He's taught across seven different grade levels, spent eight years in administration and is returning for his second year as Stark principal.
As children spent time getting to know the people with whom they would be spending most of their time during the next school year, Bonasera hosted the parents of those children for an introductory session. Initially planned to take place in the Media Center of the school, so many parents showed up it was moved to the auditorium.
"[The day is] also for us to speak to parents and answer any questions that they have," he said. "It's a special day for these kindergarteners and their parents to have the building to themselves and to get acclimated to the whole experiences."
Every school with a kindergarten class in Stamford was taking part in an exercise like that Monday. Sixth and Ninth grades in the city also took part in orientations Monday. Anytime there is a major transition of space, from first-time students to the elementary-to-middle-school jump to the first-year-in-high-school class, the district likes to give those students a day to take a look around on their own.
"It's been a very quick summer," Bonasera said. "I feel like we've just ended the last year. But we have a wonderful group of teachers. Our kindergarten staff, our teachers, our para-educators, are all about the kids. We have a great staff and we're off to a great start and it's wonderful to see all their faces."