First Day of School Brings Tears, Laughter

Giannah Farag was all smiles as she waited for her teacher outside Hillcrest School in Somerset the morning of Sept. 9.

The new Kindergartner made her first friend – Dylan Cauthen – shortly after arriving at the school.

Giannah was accompanied by her mother, Heather, who was also smiling, but for a different reason.

“I’m nervous,” Heather Farag said. “It’s new. But I’m excited.”

The Farags and Cauthens were among the throngs of parents and students assembled at the district’s nine schools on what was for students in Kindergarten through 12th Grade the first day of school. Pre-Kindergarten students’ first day is Sept. 11.

Giannah didn’t talk much about starting her new adventure, her mother said.

“Everyone asked her, are you going to Kindergarten, and she would say, yeah, and that’s where it stopped,” Heather Farag said.

Dylan’s mother, Tei Cauthen, has been this route before.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “This is my second” time taking a child to Kindergarten, she said. “I got it.”

Dylan was fully involved in preparing for her first day, her mother said.

“She packed her backpack and her lunch box, and she picked out her own clothes,” she said.

It wasn’t long before the children’s teacher, Karen Merlini, showed up to collect her students.

This is Merlini’s 14th year teaching in the district, she said.

“Every year is a fresh start,” she said.

With the prevalence of pre-school, Merlini said, there’s a lot fewer tears now than in the past when kids are left by their parents with teachers.

“They’re so used to coming to school,” she said. “There’s a lot of happy faces.”

Now begins the process of “getting to know the children, learning their names, learning about all of their different personalities,” she said.

Jacqueline Howard dropped off her 4th Grader, Janasia, who was “very excited” to start a new school year, she said.

“She’ll have a new teacher, she’s very eager to learn,” Howard said.

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