By Sgt. Mark A. KauffmanAugust 29, 2013
CAMP CASEY -- For some children, the first day of school can bring on so much excitement and anticipation they have a hard time sleeping the night before, similar to the night before Christmas. This was true for Amerie Hernandez-Ojeda, 9, who was about to enter the school as a fourth-grader. She admitted having a hard time falling asleep Sunday night and when she did fall asleep, she found herself wide awake at 4:30 a.m., anxious and ready to go to school.
Staff Sgt. Ruben Ojeda, 4th Squadron, 7th Cav., and his 3 daughters were the first students to show up August 26, a full hour before the buses arrived.
The buses transport children from other residential areas in the region. They start to roll in at approximately 7:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, the bus doors open and the waves of students are released to go find their teachers.
As they entered school grounds students were greeted with warm friendly smiles and handshakes from teachers Bradley Wood, kindergarten teacher and teacher's aide and Todd Preston, special education aide.
"Hey, Mr. Todd, you grew a mustache," said a student as he passed by, and then gave him hand shake.
Preston has been teaching at the school since the beginning, 2010, and has developed a special rapport with the students.
"Every day I choose to welcome the students as they come off the bus," Preston said with a smile. "It really makes me feel good and it's a great way to start the day."
Preston and his wife, Johnanna, a second-grade teacher at Casey Elementary, like to spend their summer vacations somewhere new, but coming back to Camp Casey is something special for them.
"I love the first day of school, it gives me a purpose again." said Preston.
Hugs, high-fives, and laughter filled the humid morning air as students, parents and staff gathered at the school to officially kick off the new school year.
Jesus Caldron, interim principle, gave a short welcome speech to everyone.
Then, one classroom at a time, the teachers led their students to their respective classrooms.
The elementary school started the day with a short musical sound-bite over the intercom from John Sebastian and the TV show "Welcome Back Kotter" followed by a loud, united "wolf howl" from each of the classrooms, led by Morris Poston, elementary guidance counselor and third-graders Saniyah Johnson and Austin Hornsby.
The Casey Elementary School enrollment has continued to grow from day one, and teaches students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
"We have a total of 500 students enrolled at that this time," said Caldron. "We have added another third-grade teacher to the staff to accommodate the high enrollment."
According to Caldron, Casey Elementary and Middle School is the best kept secret in Korea.
"We are fortunate to have a staff that collaborates to bring quality instruction to our most deserving students," Caldron said.
Positive attitudes and the eagerness to learn + the passion and dedication to teach = another successful year and to all a good night.