MERIDEN — Throngs of children toting brightly-colored backpacks and sporting their best back to school outfits descended upon Roger Sherman School Wednesday a little earlier than usual, as the third — and for now, final — extended day school in the district got underway.
Buses starting arriving around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, to allow students to be in their classrooms by 7:40 a.m., a full hour earlier than school started last year.
“This morning it was OK, she was wide awake,” Marcelo Diaz said of his daughter Victoria, a third-grader at the elementary school. “But we’ll see. The first day is one thing, the second day is a different story.”
Students at Roger Sherman will attend school for an additional 100 minutes per day, using the extra time for more hands-on enrichment activities. Sherman joins Casimir Pulaski and John Barry schools in this, the third year of extended-day schools in Meriden.
“It was a rough morning,” Melanie Varona said. Her daughter, Kaylanie Ramos, is starting first grade at the school. “It was early, but I was also a mess thinking, ‘My baby is growing up!’” Varona said.
Rather than going directly into the school Wednesday morning, students lined up on the grass behind it, according to which class they were in.
Assistant Principal Nedra Miller explained that the process helped organize students, since not every grade would begin the day in their regular classrooms.
Third- through fifth grade students instead began the morning with enrichment activities, built into the extended day curriculum.
Students participated in activities focused on social skills, healthy living, science, multicultural art, or multicultural literature before moving to their normal classrooms.
Younger students began the day with free breakfast in the cafeteria.
“So far, so good,” Miller said around 8 a.m. Wednesday. “We had teachers who weren’t scheduled to work this (earlier) shift come in to help get everyone organized, so it’s been all hands on deck. We’re ready to take on the extended day, and we’re ready to see the growth in the students,” she said.
Addressing a group of community and state organization representatives later, Principal Lyssette Torres said, “We’re very excited about starting expanded learning. What we have here is the result of a lot of planning.”
For others Wednesday however, the fact that Roger Sherman was implementing its extended day program wasn’t as pressing as the simple fact that it was the first day of school.
Jade Jimenez stood outside of the school peering at the buses Wednesday. Her daughter, Envy Harris was starting kindergarten.
“I followed the bus just to make sure it got here all right,” she said, laughing. “I think I’m more nervous than her!”