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Incoming kindergarteners learn how to ‘do school’ at ACE

Athens-Chilesburg Elementary welcomed nearly three dozen youngsters for the final session of Summer Ignite, which FCPS schools designed as a weeklong orientation for incoming kindergarteners, sixth graders, and high school freshmen. “We’re calling it ‘Under the Sea’ because they’re coming to see what ACE is all about,” said Tyson Steelman, the assistant principal. What the children found was an excited staff ready to show them how to “do school.”

Whether practicing with scissors and glue, shaping Play-Doh, listening to stories, or dancing in the gym, the youngsters found their days happily busy with plenty of opportunities to get to know ACE and each other. Special education teacher Stephanie Miner noted the focus was social-emotional activities, such as learning to be a good friend. After the pandemic shutdown with many children stuck at home the past year rather than attending preschool, the aim was to prepare them for the first day of kindergarten. “When they come (Aug. 11), some of those nerves are set aside,” Miner said.

ACE plans for four kindergarten classes this fall with about 100 students. Thirty-four participated in Summer Ignite, and the staff expects to meet the rest on Back to School Night. As for the “Under the Sea” theme, “We wanted to welcome them in a fun way,” Miner said. Teachers decorated accordingly, with sheets of blue and teal representing the ocean, inflated dolphins and paper sharks, and a sensory table where children investigated sandy seashells. “It’s so much fun to work with the little ones,” Miner said. “We also get an overall survey of where the kids are and where we want to take them.”

In addition, the week featured tours of the school so the youngsters know where to find the restrooms, cafeteria, library, gym, and playground. As they heard about classroom rules and ACE expectations, their families practiced drop-off and pick-up procedures. “This allows us to get routine stuff out of the way so (parents) feel comfortable leaving their baby and we can hit the ground rolling when they come in,” Steelman said.

(Posted July 28, 2021) 

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