Sunny skies and smiles for back to school in La Grange
Gabriel Paszyna, 5, of La Grange, relaxes with his sister, Kayla, 2, and parents, Laura and Tony, before taking a bus to start kindergarten at Barnsdale School in LaGrange Park. | Jane Michaels—Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 29, 2012 1:58AM
LA GRANGE — The first day of kindergarten turned out to be Gabriel Paszyna’s lucky day, a good sign of the year to come.
“We thought we were at the back of the line, and then they said for everyone to turn around, so we were first, unintentionally,” said Gabriel’s mom, Laura.
She and her husband, Tony, and their daughter Kayla, 2, waited in line Aug. 21 outside Cossitt School just west of La Grange’s downtown to give Gabriel a big send-off.
Gabriel said he wasn’t worried about riding the bus to Barnsdale School in LaGrange Park for full-day kindergarten, even though he had missed a dry run of the bus route Aug. 14. He was all smiles, sporting a large backpack festooned with happy fish.
Though the bus was late, nobody seemed to mind. Parents relished the extra few minutes before letting go to launch their children on their academic careers.
“It’s just building up the excitement,” Laura Paszyna noted.
She clutched a tissue, but stayed busy snapping photos and waving until after the bus pulled away.
Hundreds of parents remained on Cossitt’s playground long after their first- through sixth-graders marched into class in orderly lines. Preschool siblings raced to the playground allowing adults to catch up on news of the summer.
In the southeast corner, moms in the Parent Teacher Council shared coffee and bagels, introduced officers and programs and outlined coming events. New Principal Steve Carnes invited parents to drop in and said he looked forward to getting to know families.
At Park Junior High School in LaGrange Park, a block scheduling program of 90-minute class periods was rolled out.
“Our math and language arts already had block periods last year,” said Superintendent Warren Shillingburg. “It’s really just a change for social studies and science.”
Teachers have received training over the summer to best use the additional time for more hands-on activities, experiments and in-depth discussions, Shillingburg said.
Veteran teachers have been paired with the district’s 24 new staff members and two administrators following orientation sessions also attended by newcomers Carnes, Ogden Principal Pattii Waldo and Congress Park Principal Terry Dutton.
Shillingburg said a total enrollment of 3,000 is expected, similar to a year ago, with about 700 students filling Park to capacity for the next two years, before dropping comfortably to about 620 students.