By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 8, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 8, 2013) -- All good things, like summer vacations, must come to an end, and more than 300 children walked across Red Cloud Road toward new beginnings and new learning experiences at Fort Rucker schools.
Children on the installation experienced their first day back to school Aug. 6, and among the first-day jitters were excited children, parents and teachers eager to get the new school year underway, according Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal.
"It's been so exciting to get ready and prepare for the children to come," said Gilmer. "We have a crowd that queues up every morning (during the school year), and it's so exciting to look across the street and see their faces ready to come in."
In the days leading up to the first day, teachers got their classrooms ready, bike racks were cleaned and readied, and the logistics were worked out to make sure that adults were stationed at numerous points throughout the school grounds to welcome and help newcomers.
Although many children may be nervous about the first day of school, Gilmer said the opportunity to make a first impression to the children and parents is all important.
"This sets the tone for the year," she said. "It's our first impression and it's the day that we really put a lot of emphasis on so that we can hook the children and get them excited about being here.
"The children come in with their jitters, excitement and uncertainties, and they're just enveloped by their classroom teachers and shown all things FRES," Gilmer explained. "They also get to do different activities to get to know their classmates and start team building, and do some Family building within the classrooms -- we're in this year together."
Parents and children had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the teachers and their classroom the day before with the school's Sneak-a-Peek, during which the Families had the chance to take a tour of the school before the first day and get a quick look at what they had to look forward to in the year, said the principal.
Children weren't the only ones excited about the new school year, however.
"We've been excited for school to start back again, too," said Sgt. 1st Class, Robert Price, 1-58th Airfield Operations Battalion, of he and his wife, Dary. "It gives the children something to do because during the summer, it's fun for the kids, but during the school year they get to spend a lot more time with their friends in class."
"(Our children) have been ready to get back to school, though," added Dary. "They were ready to go back before we were; they love school."
Throughout the day, children got to familiarize themselves with their teachers, new classmates and classrooms, and for some children, like Brooklyn Dechent, who started Fifth Grade, the new experiences had them enthusiastic about the upcoming year.
"My first day of school has been very nice so far because our teacher is super nice," she said. "I love that we get to switch classrooms this year, and I especially love that we get to have lockers -- this school is awesome."
Dechent said she's been ready for the new school year to start, and although she doesn't have as many of her friends in her class as she'd hoped, she's excited about making new ones.
"I have a lot of new classmates that I really like, and I'll get to see my other friends since we get to switch classes now," she said. "It's going to be a really good school year."