Seymour Community School Corp. welcomes students back Thursday

On the first day of school, students experience a range of emotions.

Some kids are happy and excited about all the new friends they are making. Others are sad because they miss their parents.

Mixed in with those feelings are students who are tired because they’re not used to getting up early and those who are hungry because they’re used to having a mid-morning snack.

Georgia Hare, 5, said she felt nervous on the first day of kindergarten at Seymour-Redding Elementary School on Thursday morning.

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But her nerves didn’t keep her from playing with her classmates and answering questions when teacher Rachel Smith called on her.

Smith understands it’s a lot for a 5-year-old to take in. She wants Hare and each of the 30 students in her class to know they can smile and laugh. And it’s OK to cry a little, too.

It’s also normal to have butterflies in their stomachs and to have the wiggles, she said.

“It’s OK to have all those feelings,” she said. “I was even a little nervous this morning, even though I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”

One of the first activities Smith had her class complete was to draw their face showing what emotion they were feeling at that moment.

They posted the drawings up on a chart, and Smith said it made her heart happy to see that most of the students were happy.

“It’s important for them to be able to express how they’re feeling and for me as a teacher to acknowledge and validate those feelings,” she said.

Besides sharing their emotions, students also worked on paying attention, following directions, taking turns and raising their hand when they needed something.

Sawyer Moore said his favorite part of kindergarten so far is coloring. At just 5 years old, he was able to color in the lines and pick out the right colors.

“I think kindergarten is going to be fun,” he said.

The vision at Redding this year for students and teachers is “Dream Big.”

What that means is not being afraid to try new things, said Principal Steve Bush.

“We want to empower our kids and adults to think outside the box and to take risks,” he said.

Not every plan will work out, but when it doesn’t, that’s the best opportunity to learn, he added.

“We talk about falling forward, not falling down,” he said.

To live by its motto, the school created a new sensory path in one of the hallways that encourages students to hop, skip, count and stretch.

The idea came from one of the school’s occupational and physical therapists, Lisa Setzer.

“She dreamed of having this not just for our special needs population but for all our students,” Bush said. “It’s a great outlet and an opportunity for those students who need a break or need to move around.”

During Redding’s open house Tuesday, students got their first look at the sensory trail, and many enjoyed following each activity prompt, from doing the crab walk to wall pushups and even a yoga tree pose.

“It was cool to see how much they liked it,” Bush said.

Having won the district’s Elementary Cup last year in a yearlong friendly competition, Bush said the school has a lot of work to do this year to maintain a high level of success.

“We’re soaring to excellence,” he said.