Students get early look at kindergarten

SUWANEE - More than 100 rising kindergartners got a sneak peak of a school day this week during a three-day camp designed to help ease the adjustment into "big school."

Riverside Elementary School's Space Camp (so named because the school's mascot is the rocket) allowed 120 students to tour the campus, ride a school bus, learn how to open a carton of milk from the cafeteria, and meet their future classmates and teachers.

The half-day sessions also give parents the opportunity to calm their qualms about the first day of school.

"I'd say it's 50 percent for the kids and 50 percent for the moms," Principal Craig Barlow said.

There are always a few tears on the first day of school, he said, but the experience of Space Camp will prevent pupils and parents from feeling overwhelmed this August.

Kindergarten teacher Leslie Livaditis agreed the experience of camp helps families feel more comfortable with the school.

"I think the best thing about camp is the kids can come into the building without the other thousand kids and feel safe," she said.

When school starts Aug. 13, Livaditis said teachers can also look to campers to be good role-models for their classmates. While she talked to her students, she reminded them to raise their hands and wait to be called on before speaking.

Terrance Brown, 5, said his favorite camp activity was taking an imaginary ride into space. Students took off their shoes and made a short journey across the hall, where they climbed into a plastic tent and saw stars and other celestial bodies.

Terrance said he's excited about the transition to Riverside from "little school."

"I am going to like it a lot," Terrance said, as he played with wooden blocks during math time. "I wish I could live here."

This year, Riverside Elementary expects to enroll 1,466 students, according to the school district's enrollment forecast. As of Wednesday, the school had enrolled 236 kindergartners, Barlow said.

Registration for new students will continue to take place at local schools throughout the summer. Parents who are unsure which school their child will attend can contact the district's planning office at 678-301-7085.