Couldn’t sleep at all last night: Re-2’s first day of school |

Couldn’t sleep at all last night: Re-2’s first day of school

A decibel-breaking blare broke through the afternoon calm at Riverside School in New Castle on Tuesday. The school’s fourth- through eighth-graders filed out of classrooms, many holding their ears, and lined up alongside the fence.

No, there wasn’t a fire, and no, a prankster hadn’t pulled the alarm. It was Garfield Re-2 School District’s first day back at school, and Riverside was conducting a refresher course on fire drills.

“Anybody talks, we’ll practice this again!” cautioned Mike Stickler, Riverside’s aptly-named physical education teacher.

No need. Although there was a bit of muffled chatting going on, the school’s 500-plus students were amazingly orderly and well-behaved as they stood outside, patiently waiting for the bell to return to class.

The first day of school can illicit a full range of reactions, and Tuesday it was no different for students from New Castle, Silt and Rifle ending their summer vacations and beginning another academic year.

“I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited!” said 13-year-old Riverside student Holly Seibert, as she headed back to the school building. “I was up at 3:30 this morning!”

Down the hall, fourth-grade teacher Margaret Hesse had those same restless feelings.

“This is my eighth year, and I still get those first-day jitters,” she admitted.

But Hesse and her teacher’s aide, Gwen Gardner, seem to have quite a handle on their charge. A brightly-colored poster tacked up at the front of Hesse’s room spells out her classroom rules, rules that can easily apply to just about anyone, school-age or beyond:

1. Always use appropriate language.

2. Be honest and show respect to everyone.

3. Keep hands and feet and other objects to yourself.

4. Listen the first time.

5. Raise your hand to speak.

At Christie Patterson’s seventh-grade reading class, 12-year-old Warren Smith is happy to be an upperclassman.

“Seventh grade is a lot funner than sixth,” he said.

And why?

“We have more advantages,” Warren’s classmate Holly explained. “We are older and more responsible.”

The kids handle a hefty load, with eight subjects a day, including two periods of math. But even with that much stimulus, 12-year-old Chris Gundlefinger is not particularly thrilled.

“It’s kinda boring,” he smiled, about returning to school. “There’s really no point in coming back.”

Say what? What about all the stuff there is to learn at school? What about seeing friends again?

“I live close to my friends anyway,” he said, “and I can learn stuff over the Internet.”

Fair enough.

At Kathryn Senor Elementary School in Castle Valley, there’s not an apathetic soul to be found. On the contrary, Lisa Keller’s kindergarten class is outside in the playground, screaming, laughing, running, jumping and generally enjoying themselves.

According to Kathryn Senor Principal Bill Zambelli, this school year’s head count rounds out at 315 students, plus 40 preschoolers.

Five-year-old Bryce Roberts reported a good first day.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s better than I thought it would be. We played an apple game, and then we did something that I don’t remember.”

Standing near the swings in the playground is a little girl with long brown hair and purple pants.

“My name is Kaila,” she said. “I think my last name is K. I think that’s it.”

Like Bryce, she is happy that school has started.

“I like it,” she said. “I like it when I have new friends.”

“Best friends!” shouted Bryce.

Over at the other set of swings, three kindergarten girls – Laura Needham, Jordan Slack and Mariela Martinez – are playing on the equipment.

“I was kind of freaked,” said Mariela point blank, when asked about the first day of school.

“I was kind of freaked too,” admitted Jordan. “I didn’t know what the teacher looked like, but now I do.”

“Now it’s good!” said Laura.

“I love it!” exclaimed Cody Slight when asked about school. “I thought I wouldn’t like it for the rest of the day, but I do! I love swinging, sliding, the monkey bars – all that stuff!”

Lisa Keller, who’s in her third year of teaching kindergarten, says she’s very impressed with this new group of kindergartners, many of whom have come from the school’s preschool program.

“This is a great class,” she said, pushing Bryce Roberts on a swing. “I only had one little crier this morning, but I think his mom was more upset than he was about his first day of school.”

Roaring Fork School District Re-1 – which includes public schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs – and Garfield School District 16 – comprised of Grand Valley and Parachute – are the next to head back to class. They start school Sept. 3.

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