Craven County schools open for business

Christian Raup said a hard goodbye to her daughter Emma at Graham A. Barden Elementary School Monday morning.

Students began the first day of school across Havelock after a long, hot summer.

“They cry and you cry, and I think it’s harder for the parents than it is the kids. It’s horrifying,” Raup said about leaving her daughter in the classroom for the first time. “She’s my second, so it’s a lot better than the first.”

For many parents, it can be the first time they have ever left their kids alone.

“She’s really excited to start school, but she’s got separation anxiety because she never did preschool or day care or anything like that,” said Raup. “She’ll be really well adjusted because of her personality, but some of those kids in there are screaming at the top of their lungs.”

Wanda Jackson, a school administrator at Barden Elementary, has a fourth-grader in the school but well remembers the pain of dropping her son Peter off for the first time.

“It’s nerve-racking,” said Jackson. “You want to make sure that they are safe, that they are going to be cared for and you are going to miss them, so it’s nerve-racking for you and your child.”

But for many families, the children handle that first day better than mom and dad.

“I think they adjust way better than we do,” said Jackson.

There are ways to help the situation, though.

“The best thing to do is bring them to the meet-and-greet that is set up ahead of time so that the kids can come and see the teachers and see the school and feel familiar, so that it is not brand new the first day of school,” Jackson said. “That was really helpful to us. They got to see the classroom. They got to see some of the classmates during the meet-and-greet, so that was a really good setup by the school to help all of us and not deal with it first thing in the morning when everyone is rushing on school day.”

Barden’s school counselor Amanda Hassell dropped her son Peter off at a first-grade class Monday.

“It’s very exciting,” said Hassell. “You try to get a good night sleep and get them rested and ready in the morning and they are very tired from a full and fun summer, but it’s exciting, taking pictures and motivating them to get back into the swing of things.”

Hassell said the trauma of that first day is shared by both the student and the parents.

“When you are starting a new year, often not only the children are nervous, but the parents are nervous as well,” said Hassell.

Hassell said establishing a regular routine early on is the best approach.

“Encourage your child to start out on the right foot as far as a good breakfast and giving them a hug goodbye and assuring them that you’ll see them very quickly in the afternoon and that they are going to have lots of fun at school,” said Hassell.

At the point of separation, a protracted goodbye is often worse than a quick one.

“I think sometimes parents are really nervous about letting their child go and sometimes staying longer often will make it worse, so giving a quick goodbye and waving and moving along,” said Hassell. “The teachers here are loving and the school counselors are always walking the halls to make sure that all the kids are happy and ready to learn and ready to learn.”

Teachers have observed that once that goodbye has been said, the children settle down.

“Often as soon as you walk out those doors, they are happy and learning,” said Hassell. “They think about you, but they are having too much fun to worry anymore.”