Excitement, introductions and a fire alarm on first day
First grade teacher Lisa Marzillo finds out from student Sienna Vargas what she did on her summer vacation. Elmwood School opened for the first day of school Tuesday morningAug. 14. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:10AM
On the first day of school in Elmwood Park, books and homework took a close second to what was on the minds of returning students.
Jimmy Strong, 10, who is starting the fifth grade at Elm Elementary School, 2319 N. 76th Ave., had no problem getting up on Aug. 14. He wanted to see his friends.
He and his mother Vicki walked north up 76th Avenue toward the school and as they came closer, her son’s eyes were fixed on the school’s playground area, where students from each grade were lining up to go inside.
Vicki Strong said her son would rather walk to school by himself, but it didn’t go his way on this day.
“He doesn’t like me by him, but I have to walk him on the first day of school,” she said.
Hugo Chavez, who also walked his son to school, considers doing so a chance to build good memories. “You have to take advantage of this because in a bit he’s not going to want me to walk him to school,” he said.
Darian McDonald, 9, was brought to school by his father, Damon, and his great-grandmother, Portia Ball. Ball said if her great grandson had his way, he would have extended summer vacation by three more weeks.
Darian, who will start the fourth grade this school year, said he was excited about going back to school. “So I can learn and have fun with my friends,” he said.
“He was very happy,” Damon McDonald said. “He’s excited to get back with his friends.”
At 8:35 a.m., the school bell rang and all the students, from first grade through fifth, walked behind their teacher, who held a sign with each school grade on it. While the students marched in for their first day of class, the parents met in the school’s gymnasium for a parent orientation meeting.
Elmwood Elementary School Principal Susan Ponzio outlined the school’s goals for the year. She said the school, a part of Elmwood Park School District 401, lives by the three Rs: Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Ready.
She stressed to the parents that they play a key role in their child’s education. “Family involvement has a positive effect on student behavior,” she said.
She also urged parents to find out what their children like to do outside of school and tie it into their learning experience. If a child likes to cook, that could be a great way to bring math into the picture, since cooking deals with weights and measurements.
Unfortunately, a fire alarm in the school went off and everyone had to leave the gym while the fire department checked it out. Ponzio said there was smoke in the school’s kitchen, but nothing was damaged and no one was hurt.
Parents like Carlos Rodriguez already know the school is doing a good job educating children. His son, Johnathan, 10, is starting the fifth grade.
“I couldn’t be more happier with the school district,” he said.
District 401 Superintendent Kevin Anderson stopped in on the orientation and offered similar sentiments.
“It’s a good school,” he said. “I know your kids will do well here. They are a wonderful staff.” ~.