Kindergarten registration begins at Eastern Elementary | Eastern North Carolina Now

Hundreds across county take first step in 13-year trek

    Like a first haircut, or a Bar Mitzvah, kindergarten registration is a rite of passage—marking the first step of a child’s progression from a Nick Jr.-educated toddler into a publicly educated little citizen.

    In order to enter kindergarten in the state of North Carolina, a child must have reached his/her fifth birthday by August 31 of the school year in which he/she is presented for enrollment. (The North Carolina Legislature moved this date forward from October 16, beginning with the 2009-2010 school year.)

    Hundreds of young Beaufort County residents are undergoing such monumental transitions this week, beginning with the kindergarten-registration event held today at Eastern Elementary School in Washington.

    From 1 to 6 p.m., Eastern Elementary School staff welcomed the first batch of prospective 2010-2011 kindergartners and their guardians to the starting line of what will be a 13-year race to high school graduation and adulthood. Registration will resume tomorrow at Eastern Elementary from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m.

Mothers and sons line the hallway of Eastern Elementary School in Washington for their turn to start the kindergarten-registration process, which began today. At the front of the line, Krystal Wright and her son, Luke Wright, are assisted by school nurse Jackie Hoell.

    Though most of the children seemed oblivious to the purpose of today’s milestone event, and likely, will not remember it in years to come; their parents are sure to remember the linoleum-tiled lobby, the white cinderblock walls, the sign on the cafeteria door…“Happy Day Café.”

    Eastern Elementary School Principal Debra Kinsey, who took over as principal in July 2009, is confident in her staff and their registration procedure. Though it’s her first time orchestrating a kindergarten registration, she said she’s not expecting any difficulties.

    “We’re ready for it,” she said. “We have our research teachers and kindergarten teachers assisting with the process.”

Kindergartner-to-be Starlyn Alligood, bottom left, waits with her younger sister, Harley Alligood, bottom right, while school nurse Jackie Hoell gives the kindergarten-registration rundown to their father, Dusty Alligood, and grandmother, Starla Alligood today at Eastern Elementary School in Washington.

    Kinsey is anticipating that each registration will be an efficient and relatively brief session of documentation and screening, lasting from roughly 30 minutes to one hour. The time will vary per student, she said, depending on how long it takes staff members to screen them for various “strengths and weaknesses.”

    “They’re actually looking at their language, their motor and their conceptual areas,” Kinsey said. “That will help us place them with the teachers who will be best suited to help them next year and identify some needs early on.”

    Of course, it will also move more smoothly if everyone comes prepared with the complete required documentation, she noted. For registration to be official, the child to be enlisted must accompany their guardian. The child’s certified birth certificate, social security card, shot record and two proofs of residency must be provided.

Parents and grandparents fill out several registration forms for their respective youngsters.

    For undocumented residents to register for kindergarten, “all they have to do is bring a notarized note or letter from the person they’re living with,” said Kinsey.

    Registering undocumented residents is complex—“sometimes there are issues of homelessness”—and is handled on a case-by-case basis, said Kinsey. Often, undocumented residents are passed through the school’s guidance office to the Beaufort County Board of Education’s central office, who ultimately handles the case, she said.

    As far as Kinsey can tell, from her limited experience as principal of Eastern Elementary, the number of students enrolled at the school hasn’t drastically fluctuated over recent years.

    “It’s staying about the same, of course this is my first year here, so I can’t speak for previous years, but looking at class sizes and staff sizes it seems to be staying about the same,” she said.

    Currently, about 260 are enrolled in kindergarten at Eastern Elementary for the 2009-2010 school year, she said. Early registration is recommended, but not required for enrollment. According to Kinsey, parents have until school starts to register their children for kindergarten.

    “We have the staff available now,” she said. “If they come later on, during the summer, the staff won’t be available to do the screening, so we’ll have to do the best we can to place them in a class.”

    Chocowinity Primary School and Northeast Elementary School have completed their formal registration periods. S.W. Snowden Elementary School is holding registration tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Bath Elementary School is holding registration tomorrow from 1 to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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