First Day of School: Excitement, tears at Modesto school

Fresh off summer break, Woodrow Elementary School students returned with excitement and anticipation Tuesday.

Many had their parents in tow to help them navigate to their new classrooms; others had the routine down pat, visiting former teachers before school started and socializing with friends.

It was likely a common sight throughout Sylvan Union School District, which opened the doors of its schools for the new year Tuesday morning. Modesto City Schools open today.

In Karen Hough's kindergarten class at Woodrow, several children had a hard time separating from their parents. Tears were shed by children for whom a few short hours away from their parents felt like an eternity.

It happens every year, and Hough said the best thing a parent can do is give the child a big hug and kiss — and leave quickly.

Kiniqua Lewis' son Deven White, 5, had no separation anxiety because he spent four months in kindergarten last year when he transferred to Sylvan Union School District midyear.

Seasoned veteran

Lewis admits that there was a lot of crying last year but on Tuesday, Deven hugged his mom goodbye after a brief cell phone conversation with his grandmother and went about setting up building blocks with other children on an alphabet patterned rug.

"He's an only child so when he's around a bunch of kids he likes it," Lewis said.

Xander Huskey, 5, was more enthusiastic about his new World Wrestling Entertainment backpack than starting kindergarten. He sobbed and clung to his teacher as mother Candice Huskey left the classroom.

"I just have to let him know I love him and walk away," Huskey said.

Hough said, "Some adapt within a day or two; sometimes it takes a little longer."

Parents also can have a difficult time letting go.

Lindsey Esenwein's eyes welled with tears after leaving her 5-year-old daughter, Audrey Esenwein. She was proud to see her little girl growing up.

"(Audrey) was three months early when she was born, so we were not really sure she was going to make it," Esenwein said.

She said Audrey went through five outfits Monday night before deciding what to wear on the first day of school.

Overall, the first day at Woodrow Elementary School went smoothly, but Principal Vickie Briscoe said every new year comes with a few "glitches."

This year, the bells were not working so kids started wandering onto campus before they were supposed to and Briscoe had to wrangle in a few stragglers.

"There's no schedule because this day can be really unpredictable," she said.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at or(209) 578-2366.

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