WRIGHT TWP. — St. Jude School was assailed on three sides Monday morning: Parents dropping off in the east, busloads dropping off in the west and pre-kindergarten tots entering from the south. The building was surrounded by smiles.
“It’s her first day of kindergarten,” Bill Hischak said after giving his daughter Adalyn a goodbye kiss between the family SUV and the school back doors. “She was excited, she couldn’t sleep. She woke up early.
Principal Sister Ellen Fischer kept urging the students to “give kisses” before entering school. One young girl started to head toward Sister Ellen, who laughed. “Well, I meant for your parents, but I’ll take one!”
Monday was the first day of school for six of Luzerne County’s 11 school districts — Crestwood, Hanover Area, Hazleton Area, Lake-Lehman, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area — which meant most private schools in those districts also started classes. Under state law, if a district provides transportation to its own students it must provide transportation to any non-public school within 10 miles of the district boundary, so those schools typically adopt the school district’s calendar.
At St. Jude — a bit more than a mile from Crestwood High School — students arrived in a flurry from about 7:45 to 8 a.m., most of them heading into a large room in the heart of the Father Nolan Center. Sister Ellen hustled between the back door, where parents lined up in cars, and the front door where a school bus pulled up every few minutes. Each time she walked through the room, there were more students gathered, grinning, hugging classmates and otherwise waiting the start of school.
Faculty member Danielle Correll stood at the back of the school and seemed to know every arriving student by name. “I Do the library, the computer labs,” she ran off a litany of activities she handles. “So I see all the students.”
A young lass standing nearby overheard and beamed “Good, I’ll know where you’ll be!”
Annalisa Shuldey and her husband brought son Giovanni, 5, in for his first day of kindergarten, posed for a picture, and then sent him off beaming, dad holding a younger sister who will undergo the same ritual in a few years.
“He was really eager,” Annalisa said. “It’s bitter sweet.”
As the first day of school always has been and probably always will be.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish