Monday was full of firsts.
As staff and students across Ennis ISD had their first day back at school after the summer break, it was a historic beginning for hundreds of brand-new learners – and for a new Ennis campus.
School bells ushered in the first day of school ever for G.W. Carver Early Childhood Center, the sparkling new facility where, as sod was being laid down on bare soil outside, the seeds of literacy were being sown inside the tan brick walls.
And at 2:35 p.m., the large block around the still-emerging Carver campus was in full first-day-of-school-pick-up-the-kids mode. Orange buses loaded on the Martin Luther King street side.
Admirably unruffled, patient parents and grandparents and caregivers waited as the traffic went at a snail’s pace around the block. North on Daffan, east on Linden, where traffic became two one-way lanes, then north into the pickup area.
The drivers modeled a kind of restraint that suggested they had themselves learned the lessons of kindergarten: Take turns. Play nice. Be patient.
“They’re being very, very patient,” said EISD Police Chief Ross Jones as he directed drivers into two pickup lanes. “They’re being very, very sweet – this is one of the best first days of school I’ve seen.”
Based on first-day traffic bottlenecks, the district has a plan, Jones said.
“We’re going to run the cars around the back side, make this one way in the morning and afternoon, and have two lanes,” he said.
Deputy superintendent Dr. Richard Skuza was one of a number of EISD administrators posted around the district to help with typical first-day traffic issues.
A former EISD elementary principal himself, Skuza knows the ABCs of emptying a school’s halls out on that stress-packed first day. But by 3 p.m. at Carver on Monday, the congestion was done.
Skuza was pleased.
“Twenty minutes!” he said. “On the first day of school, a 20-minute clear, you can’t ask for more than that. Although I guess if you’ve been in your car since 2:15, you might not feel like that.”
Kindergarten is taken seriously at Ennis ISD and its two early childhood centers.
Each Ennis kinder student receives literacy and math instruction. They spend time at learning centers that reinforce what they learn from their teacher. They get handwriting instruction, science, social studies, and health instruction.
There’s physical education, fine arts, library time, computer lab and, of course, lunchtime and recess.
“It is a privilege to work with our dedicated staff, students and parents to ensure a safe and nurturing school environment,” said principal Lisa Lowe.
As Billy Willms walked up to pick up his son Zackery, he was greeted with a smile and a hug from the blond tike who was all spiffy in bright new playclothes.
Was it a good day? Shy, Zackery nodded. Yes, it was.
Billy Willms said he’s impressed with his son’s new school outside the first-day glitches.
“I like it – other than the lines. I’m not a line person,” he said with a grin as he knelt beside his son, who shared the same grin.
With multiple construction and improvement projects under way in Ennis ISD, some of the campuses were a little rough around the edges. Monday morning, Travis still was in construction mode, but the first day of school reportedly went smoothly.
And at Carver, signs of a work in progress were everywhere like a new gate that was getting installed just as parents and kids headed home.
Named G.W. Carver Early Childhood Center after American scientist, educator and inventor George Washington Carver (1864-1943) the brand new school gleams inside and out. Although it has its own character, it has the same basic blueprint as its twin on Lampasas, David S. Crockett Early Childhood Center.
Carver sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, on the site of the former George Washington Carver school campus.
Staff members were tired but triumphant and still smiling as the last few parents drove up to pick up their children. For families with multiple kids at multiple schools, balancing pickup times and traffic is no small thing.
But despite temporary inconveniences, the beautiful new school on the unfinished corner was a point of pride for parents coming to fetch their youngsters.
“It’s great – it’s not crowded,” said Mary Rojas, in line to pick up her daughter from kindergarten.
Parent Joy Marsh brought one to school – and had two more in the stroller.
“Kindergarten’s great – they can learn new things and meet new people,” said Marsh, a stay-at-home mom.
Asked if she learned something new today, little Montana Marsh said she had, indeed.
“I learned my numbers,” she said.
Contact J. Louise at jlouise.larson@wninews. com, or 469-517-1451.