For DODDS pupils, vacation is history
Summer came to a screeching halt Tuesday morning as 47,500 children woke up early for the first time in months and frantically prepared for school.
Though each Department of Defense Dependents Schools had different first-day events, many pupils began the school year re-acquainting themselves with the school grounds and old friends, and getting to know their teachers.
Outside Alconbury Elementary School at RAF Alconbury, England, children lined up by class waiting for the first day of the school year to begin.
Standing in front of the line of first-graders was John Flannery, 6, son of Maj. Jerry Flannery and his wife, Misty.
Like many other children across Europe, John “was a little nervous but excited to see his friends,” according to his mother.
At Mannheim Elementary School in Germany, the new principal, Shawne Cryderman, spent part of the first day getting to know parents and teachers.
Cryderman, who has been with DODDS for the past 25 years and in administration for the past 13 years, briefed parents and pupils on the “winds of change” that are blowing through her school. The wind involves children always coming first and schools helping when military or family life gets tough.
Most Mannheim pupils came armed with necessary school supplies, but those who forgot some of the items where allowed a one-day pass.
“All the kids are going to be accepted today,” Cryderman said.
“No child is going to be stopped the first day of school for a silly mistake an adult made.”
Some of these silly mistakes included forgetting to register the child, not knowing the child’s class, not getting school supplies, or not buying school uniforms.
“Mommy forgot the book bag and Mommy forgot to pay for lunch,” said Sgt. 1st Class Margie Crawford of the 510th Personnel Services Battalion and mother of second-grader Jamie Crawford.
“I was so excited with getting her back to school that I forgot some of the little things. Now I’ll have to rush to the PX to pay for lunch and pick up some school supplies.” The Army and Air Force Exchange Service runs the school lunch program and parents can buy lunch coupons at the PX.
Jamie knew not to sweat the small stuff, having already learned the first-day ropes during her previous years in school. But younger and more saucer-eyed pupils began sweating a little when they were separated from their parents and taken to their classrooms.
Joung-Ae Hill, mother of Allison, 5, said though her daughter has an older sister and friends in school, she was still worried about her youngest beginning kindergarten.
“I’m kind of nervous and in a way I’m excited,” she said. “I’ll be able to do more things that I have to do during the day, plus I’d like to see how well she does in school.”
Even at DODDS high schools, where most students have pushed past those first-day jitters, there was a sense of anticipation Tuesday.
“I still feel like every year is exciting,” said Alconbury High School Principal Tom Smith, who began his 39th year as an educator Tuesday. “You’re doing something with kids. You’re trying to improve their lives.”
The enrollment at Alconbury will be about 210, resulting in the kind of small-school atmosphere Smith said he likes because it allows him to know every child.
“I know when grandma visits and when the dog dies,” he said.
Reporter Ron Jensen contributed to this report.