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Sycamore’s West Elementary invites parents to first day

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 11:22 p.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Third-grader Callie Bickner, 8, hands pencils to her dad, Brian, during the first day of school celebration Wednesday at West Elementary School in Sycamore.
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Abby West helps her son, Damion, 7, write information about himself during the first day of school celebration Wednesday at West Elementary School.

SYCAMORE – Marco Barrera was a little nervous to start his first day of school in Illinois, but he’s ready for whatever lies ahead.

Marco, 10, had his first day of fifth grade Wednesday at West Elementary School in Sycamore, and his mother, Janet Barrera, came, too, as part of the school’s annual first day celebration. The family had just recently moved from Texas, and Janet Barrera said she hopes he makes lots of new friends this school year.

“I’m excited,” Marco said. “But I kind of just wanna get it over with and get on to middle school.”

Students and their families met on the north playground Wednesday morning to hear announcements from Principal Rebecca Dahn, who started her second year as West’s principal. Then, parents visited their child’s classroom to hear curriculum presentations, and students learned about behavior expectations, which Dahn said is a goal for the school for the year.

“It promotes a positive attitude,” Dahn said.

Students were taught the importance of being respectful, responsible, ready and safe during the school year. For example,teachers talked about sharing and taking turns on the playground equipment, cleaning up after themselves and treating others the way they want to be treated.

School board Vice President Steve Nelson and President Jim Dombek visited all Sycamore schools Wednesday for the district’s first day, and stopped by for the celebration.

“We’re always excited for the first day,” Dombek said. “We probably don’t have as much energy as the kids do, but we’re excited.”

For fourth-grade teacher Betsy Brantner, her first day teaching at West felt a lot like coming home. Brantner, born and raised in Sycamore, taught in a Schaumburg-based school district for seven years before coming to Sycamore schools this year.

“I had a great experience growing up here,” said Brantner, who attended Southeast Elementary as a child. “It feels really good to be here and go through the first day with my new students.”

Brantner said she is excited to work with her fourth-grade students, because they are old enough to love the curriculum, and they start to find topics they love.

“I can get them excited about things and help them pursue their interests,” Brantner said.

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