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Tears, laughter, learning all in the first day of kindergarten

By BY KAYLA BELL - KBELL@VICAD.COM
Aug. 22, 2011 at 3:22 a.m.
Updated Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:23 a.m.

Avery Delgado gives her mother, Theresa Cano, a big hug after her first day of school at O'Connor Elementary on Monday. "How was your first day?" her mother asked. "It was happy!" Avery replied.

BACK TO SCHOOL NUMBERS

77 million: Number of children and adults enrolled in school in the United States in 2009

11.2 million: Number of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home in 2009

7.2 million: Number of teachers in United States in 2009

11 percent: Percentage of school-aged kids enrolled in private schools in 2011

43 percent: Percentage of school kids who belonged to a minority population in 2009

$31,283: Average 2008 earnings of workers with a high school diploma

$56,613: Average 2008 earnings of workers with a bachelor's degree

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Some cried. A few clung to their parents. Several yawned away the summer sleeping hours that are no more.

Avery Delgado - she teasingly wiped away her mother's kiss and perched herself in a miniature blue chair.

She was the first kid in class, and, dolled up in pink sequins, a pink bow and pink Nikes, she was ready for her first day of kindergarten at O'Connor Elementary School.

"She did say she was sad because she was going to miss us today," her mom, Theresa Cano, said.

Avery, 4, shook her head and grinned.

Though Avery was excited for kindergarten, sobbing soaked the school hallways Monday morning after parents had sneakily slipped out. Separation is sometimes just as hard for the moms and dads as it is for the kiddos, though.

"I cried so much with my first one going to pre-kindergarten," Cano said. "They're growing up too fast. From then on, there's no turning back."

The day was just as dramatic for someone else in the bright, busy classroom.

"It's my first day, too. I've never done this before, so already we have something in common," Avery's teacher, James Garcia, told his class. "Both of us are going through an experience we've never had before."

Garcia has been a teacher for nine years, but he's taught mostly older elementary kids. He said he was more nervous Monday than he was his first-ever day of teaching.

"I got up at 5 o'clock this morning because I was so nervous," Garcia said. "These are their impressionable years, and I don't want to make a mistake."

But by 9 a.m., Garcia was getting some laughs from his tense audience as he flailed his arms and twirled, showing off how not to walk through the hallways. The anxious ones were glued to his side as he patted their heads during a getting-to-know-you game.

Also, on the lesson plans for the first day of kindergarten was how to sit "criss cross applesauce," or with their legs crossed in front of them, hands in lap. There was P.E. class, lunch, rest time, math, snacks, drawing and writing their names.

Avery's favorite part?

"I liked to eat," she said at 3 p.m.

She had just found her mom outside the school among a tangle of students, all of whose tears seemed to be dried by the afternoon.

Cano kneeled down to hug her daughter and asked, "Did you miss me today?"

Avery shot her head back and threw her brown hair from side-to-side, grinning again.

"No."

But minutes later, while waiting for her siblings, Avery's hands were still clasped around her mother's neck.

"Did you miss me today?"

"Yes," Avery whispered.

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