Of the Baker City Herald

Memories of a family camping trip to the redwoods, summertime swimming and sparklers lighting up the Fourth of July were displayed in kindergarten drawings as the first day of school began Tuesday at South Baker Elementary.

We want to get those pointy tips worn off right away, teacher Fawn Robertson encouraged her students, as they opened new crayon boxes to begin drawing pictures to illustrate my summer fun.

The kindergartners toured the building with their parents, listened to two stories with their new teacher and got to know a little about each other during a short visit to the school Tuesday.

Robertson, who taught talented and gifted students at South Baker last year, learned just a few weeks before classes resumed that she would be teaching kindergartners this year.

She hurriedly put her room together and made plans for the first day. South Baker begins the year for kindergartners and first-graders with a slow start. A similar program is in place at North Baker Elementary.

On Tuesday, small groups of South Baker kindergartners spent just one hour and 15 minutes at school with their parents.

Their second day was another short session without their parents. Next they will attend full sessions on their own.

Principal Pat Braswell said the slow-start system, which has been in place for the past two or three years, helps better prepare the young students and their parents.

We think we help ground the families a lot better, and they get to know the expectations of the teachers, he said.

All Baker School District kindergartners are attending school all day every other day this year. The program is modeled after the system that has been used at Brooklyn Elementary for the past several years.

Robertson, who fills a part-time position at South Baker, teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday. She has 15 students in her classroom.

Karen Zimmer is the full-time kindergarten teacher at South Baker. She has 15 students in her Tuesday-Thursday class and 17 in her Monday-Wednesday class. Those students also attend school on alternating Fridays.

The kindergartners (and other Baker students through Grade 6) begin the school day at 8:15 a.m. School lets out for those students at 2:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Classes will be dismissed at 1:15 p.m. on Fridays as part of the school districts new schedule this year.

The South Baker students werent the only ones to get a special introduction to their new schools as summer vacations came to an end this week.

At Baker High School, the freshman were welcomed with the help of a specially selected group of seniors. And eighth-grade Viking Ambassadors welcomed seventh-graders to Baker Middle School. All students returned to middle school and high school classes Wednesday.