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Kindergartner busy on first day of school year

August 22, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM and MATTHEW UMSTEAD

Editor's note: A reporter followed 5-year-old Mackenzie Wincovitch to kindergarten Wednesday, the first day of school for most students in Washington County.

FUNKSTOWN - Mackenzie declined her usual breakfast Hot Pockets or oatmeal Wednesday morning. She opted instead for "princess flakes" with no milk, saying she didn't want to risk a stain on her first-day-of-school outfit.

The purple shirt with metallic butterflies and a jean skirt were chosen from at least a dozen possibilities.

Mackenzie Wincovitch was one of about 21,500 students who started school Wednesday in Washington County. It was Mackenzie's first day of kindergarten at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education.

Mackenzie's mother, Heather Wincovitch, said her daughter, who attended the pre-kindergarten program there last year, asked to have her hair styled like her favorite Bratz doll for the first day of school.

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She also has been asking if "this is the week school starts" for more than a month.

"She's so excited about going," Heather said.

Eating breakfast Wednesday morning, Mackenzie already was wearing her book bag, and had to be reminded to take it off to brush her teeth. She ate only a little before leaving the counter to stand near the front door, waiting until it was time to walk to the bus stop with her 10-year-old brother, Stephen Wincovitch Jr., and her mother.

Quiet and shy at first, she stayed close to her brother at the bus stop.

Swinging her book bag from side to side and letting her pigtails brush by her face, Mackenzie soon started talking to a few new friends. She spent a few minutes following a centipede on the ground with a boy from her neighborhood.

They were the first of many friends she would meet Wednesday.

Getting to school

Mackenzie sat by herself near the front of the bus, but at the next stop, a girl sat next to her and the two started talking.

Mackenzie said she liked the bus ride because she made new friends - something she was hoping to do Wednesday.

She anxiously looked out the window and was the first out of her seat when the bus stopped at Funkstown. Greeted by teachers and the school's principal, Susan Burger, she walked by herself into the classroom she will share with 24 other kindergartners this year.

Mackenzie said she already had met her new teacher, Lindsay Miles, during an open house the night before.

"I like her," Mackenzie said. "I like Miss Miles."

Inside the class, she found a desk with her name tag on it, and Miles handed her a piece of paper and a box of crayons.

Mackenzie, who loves to draw, chose a red crayon and drew a cat.

"That's a pretty kitty," Miles said.

After a few minutes, Mackenzie was joined at her table by a boy named Skyler. He asked to be called Dash, and told Mackenzie and Miles that he was going to draw a Power Ranger.

The school day began at 8:20 a.m.

Introductions

On her first day of kindergarten, Mackenzie was introduced to her classmates, her classroom, where nearly everything is decorated with frogs, and her school. She learned rules for things she will do every day, including the way to hang up her book bag and how to use the playground equipment.

She learned how to evacuate her classroom in case of a fire, and how to move from her desk to the carpeted area where the books are kept.

She learned where the bathrooms are and to get a "squirt" of hand sanitizer before coming back to her seat.

Before going on a tour of her school, Miles asked her students to recite a rhyme, "My hands are laced in front of me. I'm standing straight and tall. My eyes are looking straight ahead. I'm ready for the hall."

Mackenzie stayed quiet with her eyes on the teacher as the instructions were given. She watched the other students, and often offered answers to questions that Miles asked the class.

"What should your mouths be," she asked.

"Zipped," Mackenzie said, moving her hand across her mouth, pretending to zip her lips.

Students learned how to sit in the reading area. Books are stored in plastic bins, organized by type. Dinosaur books, seasonal books and farm books are separated. There even is an area with only Clifford books.

Miles asked her students to sit in the reading area with their legs crossed like pretzels. After Wednesday, when she wants her student to sit like that, she will say "crisscross applesauce" and they will know what to do.

Reading

Mackenzie's goal this year is to learn to read.

She knows some words, but wants to be reading books by the end of the school year.

The first book that Miles read to the class Wednesday was "The Kissing Hand," by Audrey Penn. After reading the book, she gave each student a sticker with a heart.

Mackenzie put her sticker on her nose and showed some of her new friends.

Students also learned how to read a big book ("on your belly") and about the literacy centers.

"These are things that are going to help you learn to read without me," Miles told her students.

At 12:52 p.m., Miles showed the students how to draw pictures of themselves and write their names.

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