Dozens of kids funneled into a meeting room at the Charlotte Hall library on Wednesday. They sat on the floor with their parents as the children’s librarian explained what the future kindergartners and preschoolers will expect when they start school.
“It’s going to be fun when you get to school,” Tess Goldwasser, the library’s assistant branch manager, said to the group during the branch’s “Kindergarten Here We Come” program.
The St. Mary’s County Library event prepares new students for the school culture. The first event took place Wednesday. The next event will happen today, Friday, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Lexington Park library, and the third event will be on Aug. 17 at the Leonardtown branch.
Goldwasser told the audience to raise their hands when they heard the name of their school called out. Current and future students of Lettie Marshall Dent, Mechanicsville, Oakville elementary schools in St. Mary’s as well as T.C. Martin Elementary in Charles County were in attendance.
The children’s librarian pulled out a book and read “Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes” by Eric Litwin, and kids and parents sang along. The children’s librarian later pulled out a ukulele and played the song “Wheels on the Bus” while the kids sang along.
After the song, the group lined up to go for a practice ride on the school bus. Tina Harper, a Hughesville resident, stood in the back of the line with her kids who are headed to kindergarten, first grade and second grade at T.C. Martin. Harper said her children have never taken the bus to school and she “wanted them to get that experience and know what to expect.”
Almost every seat on the bus was filled when Kelly Cooke, a St. Mary’s bus driver and attendant instructor, took off. She drove to an empty White Marsh Elementary School and announced some of the bus rules.
Stay in the seats “until the bus driver tells you to get up,” Cooke said. She also mentioned there are cameras on the bus — four on hers — and the newer buses have dash cameras. She told a visitor she hopes students remember to sit down, stay quiet and to not distract the driver.
“So we’re going to be starting kindergarten in September,” Valerie Reiger of Mechanicsville said about her 5-year-old, Jacob. She said she wants him to get used to being around other kindergartners.
“He’s a little bit nervous,” Reiger said, adding that she wants him to know there are other kids doing the same thing. Wednesday’s event was the second time Jacob rode a school bus. The first time was when he “went to camp and I went on a field trip,” he said.
When students returned to the library, activities like lacing and tying a shoe cutout, name-writing exercises and coloring and cutting out shapes were waiting for them on tables. Members of a local Lions Club were also there to offer free vision tests.
Levi Page, 5, was coloring a square. His mom, Essence Sandy, said this event would be a good opportunity to possibly meet some future Oakville Elementary classmates and ride the bus for the first time.
Page said he enjoyed the bus. “I like going around places,” he said.
Katie Rison of Benedict said she and her son, Adam, were in a “different situation.” Like other parents, she wanted her child to ride the school bus. But only because Adam would not get that experience as a car rider when he attends St. Peter’s School in Waldorf. The soon-to-be 4-year-old said he also liked riding the bus. “I liked to look out the window,” he said.