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Nazareth students enjoy first day of school

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Aug. 15, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.

With a little help from her mother, Ivy Hawkins, 5, opens the front door of Nazareth Academy on her first day of kindergarten. She came prepared for the start of class with a Hello Kitty lunchbox, a Justin Bieber backpack and a  T-shirt sporting "Jets for Jesus."

With a little help from her mother, Ivy Hawkins, 5, opens the front door of Nazareth Academy on her first day of kindergarten. She came prepared for the start of class with a Hello Kitty lunchbox, a Justin Bieber backpack and a T-shirt sporting "Jets for Jesus."

As the 8 a.m. school bell rang at Nazareth Academy on Monday, Abigayle Hrnicr's kindergarten class settled into their miniature blue desk chairs.

The class of 19 students were given an assignment on the first day of school: Color a picture of a school house with crayons.

"Would you please show me what color God would make these bushes," Nazareth reading coach Annette Howard told 5-year-old Ivy Hawkins.

Howard, a Nazareth teacher for about 12 years, served as assistant teacher Monday while Hrnicr was out sick with bronchitis.

Shuffling back to her seat, Ivy sat with fellow 5-year-old classmates Charlie Alstrom and Ava Flores, and discussed how they each prepared for the first day of Catholic school.

"My parents made me study this summer. I had to put a sentence in every word," Ivy said, coloring the school house bushes on her worksheet. "I like studying, though, because I like to color."

Ivy commented that her first day of kindergarten was a special day; her parents requiring the pint-sized blond to pose for three photos in her crimson and khaki-colored uniform before departing for class.

"I think they're going to put me in a magazine or something," she said, proudly.

"I just had to get dressed," Charlie added, picking up a red crayon.

As the children finished their coloring assignment, Howard led the class in early morning prayers.

The children stood up, faced a painting of Jesus hanging on the rear wall, and made the sign of the cross across their chest.

"Follow me class. In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen," Howard said, demonstrating the trinity with a slow right-hand movement.

When Howard asked if the students had individual prayer requests, many raised their hands and asked God to protect their pets, and watch over a few of the students' expectant mothers.

"My two cats, one of them died and the other one ran away," Ivy told the classroom during prayer time.

Howard then asked God "to keep the one that ran away safe, and help Ivy feel happy again about her cats."

In the past 12 years, Howard has experienced many first days of school, and appreciates the faith-oriented academic environment Nazareth Academy offers.

"Our parents really understand they are the first educator of their child. And we are honored to be asked to help them guide their child to be prepared for life: spiritually, socially and academically," Howard said.

Nazareth Principal Scott Kloesel explained kindergarten is a pivotal year because it's when they first learn about Godly behavior.

"For these little ones, the early education years are important. Those are the years that establish the groundwork about how they feel about school; that it's a loving environment," Kloesel said. "Hopefully, that's what they experienced today."

Kloesel said the students' kindergarten curriculum will further expound on reading and phonics, basic mathematics and spiritual maturity in Christ.

"They will definitely be learning their prayers, and they take a religion class where they'll be learning all the good things about Jesus and how to treat each other," he said.

But for Ivy and the rest of Hrnicr's class, the first day of Catholic school was all about making new friends and enjoying the day.

"It's fun to be here," Ivy said.

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