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Bittersweet blues for parents on first day

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, August 18, 2018
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GET IN LINE – Decatur senior Zane Hickey fills his plate during the last first day breakfast. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Clothes were crisp, backpacks were bedazzled and rivers of mascara stretched down cheekbones.

It could only mean one thing; the first day of school at Carson Elementary in Decatur had arrived.

The kindergarten staging area was organized, as kids were sequestered into little winding rows along the gymnasium floor. Children made friends quickly, as parents lined the walls preparing for the final send off of the morning.

EXCITING TIMES – Shirah Smith walks down the hallway during her first day of school at Bridgeport Elementary. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For Beverly Stark, her task was preparing her daughter Sadie Stark for every possible scenario.

“I’m used to dropping her off at daycare, but I work in Arlington. So, it’s just coming to grips with being away from her all day,” Stark said. “I’ve been worrying about if she goes to the wrong place, what if she gets lost. But we’ve been preparing all week. That’s what mom’s do.”

By around 8 a.m. school employees ushered the children and their parents into kindergarten classrooms.

“Hug, handshake or high five?” asked teachers as the little ones entered their doorways.

Blakely Ripple opted for the high-five.

His parents, Kristen and Justin, gave more than enough hugs on his way in.

Blakely is the Ripples’ youngest. While Kristen Ripple is now a veteran of the first day of kindergarten scene, she said it’s still not easy.

“I know what to expect, we know what we’re doing, but it’s sad,” Kristen Ripple said. “My baby is no longer a baby.”

A few miles down the road, Decatur High School seniors were dressed in peach T-shirts entering the final first day.

They enjoyed a pancake breakfast to usher in the beginning of their senior year. In months, they’ll be walking across the stage.

As students finished their meals and made their way to the school doors, parents were ambushed by similar emotions from 13 years ago.

George Ince’s eyes swelled with pride as he watched his daughter Sabrina embark toward the first day of her senior year.

“It means a lot to me,” Ince said. “She’s my youngest and I wanted to be here to see this. I’m just proud.”

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