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All-day kindergarten generates mixed feelings

March 24, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

All-day kindergarten generates mixed feelings

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - Nicholas Miller, 5, sat with his mother Tuesday afternoon, looking through a bag of school supplies he received as part of kindergarten pre-registration at North Jefferson Elementary.

"I even got pencils," Nicholas said. "I've got to sharpen them."

Families in Jefferson County are going through a rite of passage as children are registered for kindergarten classes at Jefferson County schools.

"It's very exciting. It's a new stage. I think the first day of school will be more difficult," said Marsha Starkey as she sat with her daughter, Jessie, 5.

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Jessie Starkey smiled brightly as she sat with her mother. "Yes sir, I'm really excited," she said about starting school in the fall.

Kindergarten pre-registration began Monday, the same day the Jefferson County Board of Education approved all-day kindergarten being phased in over two years. Currently, children spend only a half day in kindergarten.

All-day kindergarten will begin at Blue Ridge, North Jefferson, C.W. Shipley and Ranson elementary schools in the fall.

In the 1999-2000 school year, the following elementary schools will have all-day kindergarten: South Jefferson, T.A. Lowery, Page Jackson and Shepherdstown.

Marsha Starkey said she's anxious about her daughter being in kindergarten all day.

"Quite honestly, I have a lot of concerns about it. I'm not 100 percent for it. I think it's too long of a day," Starkey said.

Other parents said they thought all-day kindergarten is a good idea.

"I think it's great. They've been talking about it for years," said Kathy Miller as she sat with her son, Nicholas.

Miller said all-day kindergarten will be easier for working parents who now have to make arrangements in the middle of the day for their children.

"I'm very happy about it," said Jo Ellen Baker as she sat with her son, Travis, 5.

"I think it'll get him more ready for the first grade and give him better social abilities," Baker said.

"I've heard some parents say that it will be too long of a day for their children, but I don't think it will be for him," Baker said.

Susan Heerd, a kindergarten teacher, said there will be "down time" scheduled into each class day to give children a chance to take a nap or to just relax.

Heerd said some children in a Title 1 program already attend all-day of kindergarten at North Jefferson and Ranson elementary schools. The federally funded program is aimed at helping disadvantaged children.

"There are children who need the extra time," she said.

Nancy Mobley said she thinks the extra school time will help her daughter, Alisha, 5.

"This will help her in the long run," Mobley said.

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