NEVADA – Thousands of young students embarked on their first day of school in Washoe County School District, marking both excitement and bittersweet moments for parents. Audrey Cancino, a vibrant 5-year-old, exhibited a mixture of curiosity and empathy as she asked her mom if she’d be okay on this significant day. The school’s tables of tissues for emotional parents were a testament to the range of emotions present.
Audrey, clad in pink sneakers, a pink and purple fuzzy unicorn backpack, and holding a matching pink umbrella, recognized that starting kindergarten can be an emotional journey for parents. With over 4,000 young learners starting school, Sara Padilla felt the bittersweet experience as she dropped off her youngest child, Aiden Padilla, at Brown Elementary School.
Superintendent Susan Enfield expressed excitement for the new kindergartners, emphasizing the importance of their presence in the district. However, she acknowledged a decline in kindergarten enrollment, possibly influenced by the pandemic when many families adjusted to keeping their children at home.
Kindergarten entrance criteria underwent changes as well. As of last year, students needed to be 5 by the first day of school to enroll, and a recent law now requires a student to be 5 by August 1 for enrollment. This year, the district allowed students who turned 5 by the first day of school to enroll if they had attended preschool.
Enrollment numbers across all grades were not available at the time, but discussions during budget deliberations indicated an anticipated decrease in enrollment due to factors like housing costs and the rise of private and charter schools.
Despite initial tears and reluctance from some kindergartners, teachers, like the one coaxing a sobbing student clutching plastic dinosaurs, provided comforting support. However, for Audrey Cancino, there was no hesitation. Her older brother, Bronx Cancino, offered his wisdom, advising her to listen closely.
As the school year began, families and students alike embraced the start of a new chapter, with parents’ emotions running high and kindergartners stepping into their educational journey with excitement and curiosity.
Credits: Reno Gazette
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