SYCAMORE – Brinley Young stood near the playground at West Elementary School on Wednesday, clad in her first day of school outfit and backpack, and said she couldn’t wait to start first grade because her best friends from kindergarten would also be in her class.
Brinley, 6, said she’s looking forward to being a first grader in Adam Williams’ class.
“I’m excited about gym, computer lab, art, reading,” Young said. “I like reading mostly chapter books, like ‘Magic Tree House.’ ”
Young, her brother Knox, 5, and their parents were one of many families heading back to school in Sycamore School District 427 on Wednesday, along with other DeKalb County schools that will kick off their fall semesters in the coming week. DeKalb schools begin Thursday, Hiawatha and Sandwich on Friday, followed by Genoa-Kingston and Kishwaukee College on Monday. Move-in day for Northern Illinois University students is Aug. 23, and the fall semester begins Aug. 26.
Knox was shy at first, but said he’s excited to begin his first day of school in Stacie Williard’s kindergarten class, and said he hopes there’s a lot of play time and that he’ll learn how to read.
Lillyann Burger, 7, dressed in a sparkly skirt and backpack, walked toward the building with her mom, and said she’ll also be in Mr. Williams’ first grade class.
“I like learning my ABCs,” Lillyann said. “And math.”
Children were a mix of exuberance and nerves Wednesday as exclamations of “Look at my new backpack!” and “How was your summer?” could be heard around the school grounds as families were directed to new teachers and staff gathered to welcome students back. Some parents hugged their children with tears in their eyes.
Xavier Delgado, 7, and his dad, Emmanuel Delgado, 26, waited in the crowd for new West Elementary Principal Ryan Schrader to give a welcome speech. Xavier said he’s excited to be in Betsy Brantner’s second grade class and to play football.
“This is my first time,” Emmanuel Delgado said, eager to be with his son for the first day of school. “His mom’s been the one who comes usually. I took the day off today just to come here.”
Schrader’s first-day remarks weren’t the only reason for the Wednesday morning gathering. Students and their parents, in between catching up, checked in with staff dispersed among the crowd to double check teacher names, classroom lists and make sure everyone knew where they were going.
Caden Ralph, 10, was up early Wednesday because his mom, Heather Ralph, works as the West Elementary’s building secretary, and helped him get a pre-school gig directing traffic.
“I make sure buses don’t come in here, or people don’t go in there so buses can’t get in,” Caden said, donning a yellow traffic vest as he spoke about heading into fifth grade.
“I’m excited that we’re going to be the oldest kids in school,” he said.
Parents were then invited into the building for a classroom walk-through with their students and to learn about the first day curriculum.
Schrader began the school year by giving a shout-out to the West Elementary Wildcats. He had previously served as dean of students at Sycamore Middle School since 2015.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of this and as a staff we’re really excited to be here and do what’s best for the kids,” Schrader said. “Today is a great opportunity for parents to come here, get a whole message, and a fun day for them to see their kids come into the building. The teachers get to tell the parents what the school year is going to look like. It’s just a fun time.”