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September 02. 2011 7:45PM

A new school year begins


Matthew Floyd, pictured in a red shirt, 5, said he is going to miss his brother Anthony, 3, as Matt goes to first grade, during the first day of school at Weston Elementary School in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)


"Grampa" Dan O'Connor carries the backpack for Danielle Jackitis, who is going into the fourth grade, during the first day of school at Weston Elementary School in Manchester on Friday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — There were a fair number of parents either late to work or taking the day off Friday because they were escorting their children to the first day of school.

At the Weston school on Hanover Street, Andrea Baillargeon was among those with mixed emotions about their children starting school, but she wouldn't have missed it for the world. Baillargeon works full time, but said: “I'm going in a bit late.”

Her daughter Ashley, 6, was starting first grade. “She's my first and only,” said Baillargeon, who added that it is exciting to see her daughter taking those first steps.

Ashley had no doubts about starting school. “She was ready at five o'clock this morning, dressed and ready,” said Baillargeon, who had her camera ready to document the event.

Melissa Rodriguez, 10, who was starting fourth grade, said: “I feel excited.” She was ready for school to start. Melissa usually rides the bus to school, but her father, Jose, was with her Friday. “Today is special,” he said.

Many of the kindergartners were wearing special yellow shirts that identified them as newcomers. Kristina Lubelczyk said the kindergartners received the shirts at orientation and were asked to wear them the first day of school.

That was OK with her 5-year-old son, Braeden, whose only concern about the first day of school involved footwear. “He couldn't wear his flip-flops,” said Lubelczyk.

He might have been calmer than some because he has been in day care in Hooksett, she said. Lubelczyk said because Braeden will be in the after-school program, “I can still work my normal hours.”

Dan and Danielle Shubelka brought Lauren to school for the first day of third grade. The 8-year-old old said, “I'm looking forward to it being a great year.”

With just a little prompting by her mother, Lauren repeated what she had told her parents Thursday. “This is my year to shine,” said Lauren.

Danielle said Lauren's new teacher, Pat Bachand, isn't a complete stranger. Lauren's older brother, Dylan, also had Mrs. Bachand for a teacher. But Lauren can be forgiven for not remembering her. “She was about 3 years old,” said Danielle.

Dylan is now in seventh grade at Hillside Middle School and headed off on his own at 7 a.m. Friday. “We got up early and took his picture,” said Danielle. But she and her husband agreed: Dylan would have been horribly embarrassed if they had escorted him to school.

Not so Lauren, who will be riding the bus to Weston most days, but was happy to have her parents with her on opening day.

Amanda Mason was bringing her oldest child to school for the first time. Five-year-old James Mason is the oldest of her three boys. “He's the beginning,” she said, admitting she had mixed emotions about him going to school.

She hopes it will result in changes for her and for James. With James in school, “It gives me more time with the toddler,” she said, gesturing towards the double stroller holding her toddler and infant sons. With two “nappers,” she hopes to get chores done more efficiently.

She's excited about James being in a large group setting for the first time. His previous experience has been with small groups, so when he came home from the kindergarten orientation, he told her there were “lots of kids.” That pleases her because she thinks it's important for him to meet new friends.

Unlike some of the students, who will be riding in the yellow school buses, James will have family company on the way to school on a daily basis. Because they don't live far from the school, Mason said, “He will be walking to school.”


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