Craig Elementary School kindergarten teacher Lori Bacchia tried to make her new students feel at ease.
“Happy first day of kindergarten, folks. Remember when I said I’d take good care of you,” Bacchia said.
There was a mix of emotions. One little boy was crying, and others were keeping to themselves.
New school Superintendent Susan Salvaggio was also on hand and tried to reassure the children that everything was going to be fine, putting her arm around one shy boy.
“I’m new here, too. I’m brand new; I’m like a kindergartner,” she said. “Are you excited? If anybody is excited, raise your hand.”
“Double hands!” yelled one excited boy.
These students had more than enough reason to be excited, as they were not just any kindergartners but the first students of the Niskayuna school district’s full-day kindergarten classes. The Board of Education voted in December to extend the day. Some parents had been pushing for a whole-day program for years.
Bacchia, a 27-year school veteran, said the change is wonderful.
“We can take time. No rushing,” she said.
She told the students about all the fun they were going to have: “We have hamsters in our classroom.”
Parents are also excited. Alex Kochnev was waiting at the school to see his 5-year-old daughter, Elena, get off the bus for her first day.
“We were looking forward to this day coming. It’s finally here. She’s excited to be on the bus. The backpack is bigger than her. She said, ‘Daddy, the backpack is killing me.’ ”
The family had a full summer of activities, including reading club at the library. Elena was a little shy and didn’t want to talk too much about her summer or her first school bus ride.
“You didn’t have to buckle up,” she noted.
Jackson Massaroni, 4, told a reporter he was looking forward to playing with toys, especially the rescue jeep.
Five-year-old Patrick Gilbert reminded Jackson that they are big kids now because they are in kindergarten.
“Don’t forget, we’re not just going to play,” he said.