A glimpse into the lives of first graders, first thing in the morning, on the first day of school at Rural Dell.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - The eager faces of first graders in Connie Yates' class at the start of their first day of school at Rural Dell Elementary.The parents were gone. Moms and dads had said their goodbyes, and a room full of eager-faced little first graders looked expectantly into the face of their teacher.

It was 9 a.m. in Connie Yate’s classroom at Rural Dell Elementary School. First thing, she settled the children in, giving them a chance to get used to their desks while they colored a picture of a cuddly-looking teddy bear.

It was maybe 9:01 and the day had barely begun when Yates asked if there were any questions. A hand shot up and a little voice queried, “When will we go to recess?”

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - In a getting to know you game, Henry tosses the ball to another student. by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Tossing a ball around the circle, getting to know classmates and learn each others' names.Yates must have heard that one before. She replied cheerfully, “We will, but not just now.”

Then it was time to get acquainted, not only with their teacher and each other, but with the calendar (“Today is Wednesday, Sept. 4”), class protocol, class chores, and every once in a while, as need arose, an important rule (“Never lean against the books on the shelf, they will get pushed back behind the bookcase.”)

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - More fresh facesIt took a minute or two for everyone to find their right hand before pledging alligiance to the flag. And clearly, it will take a few days before everyone learns the words. While Yates and most of her students recited the words, one little boy kept calling out, “Wait for me, I can’t catch up!”

The children formed a circle on the rug while their teacher introduced them to each other. That was followed by a getting acquainted game, rolling the ball to each other while calling out the other child’s name.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Teacher Connie Yates gets to know her little studentsThen, it was time to learn about class chores: Yates explained how there’s a class librarian, a card turner (“Does anyone know what a card turner does?”) a clasroom assistant, a room monitor (“We’ll save that one for later.”), someone in charge of lunch baskets and a few more chores. Names were pulled from a basket, one for each duty, and posted. The kids looked a little confused about those chores, but still eager.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - First Pledge of Allegiance to the flag

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