WARRENTON - “Kindergarten used to be a location that facilitated socialization skills. It’s much different today. What with Oregon’s Common Core Standards, this year’s kindergartener is like yesteryear’s 2nd grader. Among other things, they are being instructed in the fundamentals of reading and writing,” Louise McLane informed me after last Wednesday’s highly successful Kindergarten Roundup at Warrenton Grade School. McLane is the Director of Special Programs for the District, and the organizer of this special introduction to academia for the community’s newbies.

“Sixty two children showed up. We only expected about 40, so, yeah, this was a big success,” McLane admitted with a smile on her face. “This was the largest turnout in recent years, owing, I suppose, to the fact that Warrenton is a growing community. Everybody in the District pitched in to greet these newest members to our school community—the Class of 2025.”

“But, now,” as Warrenton School District’s Superintendent Mark Jeffery pointed out, “this function wasn’t just to acclimate the children to the school facility, but to alleviate parental anxiety, to allow parents to not only view the facility but to meet the staff. The District made a commitment to the community and the community has responded,” Jeffery stated with a look of satisfaction on his face. After a moment’s reflection, and carefully weighing each word, he added, “Warrenton is a parent welcoming and friendly location.”

Warrenton High School and Grade School principal, Rod Heyen, who was present for the event, admitted that remediating at the 10th grade level is so much harder than just preparing tomorrow’s high school students for their academic future.

Tomorrow’s high schoolers? After I had touched down in the school’s library last Wednesday to take photos, I remember looking out onto a sea of children. I felt like I had entered the Land of Oz and was surrounded by Munchkins. Louise McLane sidled up to me and said, “I keep thinking that tomorrow’s success is dependent upon these kindergartners. I know it sounds cliché, but these young smiling, boisterous faces will be the doctors, and lawyers, and politicians of tomorrow. And so it’s so important to start them off on the right foot.” Yeah, I think you’re right, Louise, we don’t live in Kansas any more.

Bruce Dustin has been an English teacher in the Warrenton School District for the past 21 years. His current assignment is a half-time English teaching position at Oregon Youth Authority’s North Coast Facility. He can be reached at (503) 861-2281.

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