MARCO ISLAND — With an attitude like Jacob Nolan’s, he will go far. The five-year-old was positively glowing at the thought of attending kindergarten, as he sat with his mother, getting his enrolment into Tommie Barfield Elementary finalized.
Asked what excited him about going to school, Jacob didn’t hesitate.
“Learning,” he replied. Learning what? “Everything.” Jacob’s mom, Theresa O’Farrell, said he is indeed precocious. The family just moved from Cadillac, Michigan, where school doesn’t start until September 7, she said.
School started Monday on Marco Island. High school kids groaned about getting up in the pre-dawn darkness, and some younger kids, along with their mothers, got sentimental about the milestone reached.
For Marco Island Academy, it was truly the first day of school, as the 80 students of the new charter high school celebrated the opening of a brand new institution of learning. At the school’s temporary home at the First Baptist Church on Winterberry Drive, the teachers made their entrance into the assembly of students at a run, wearing leis and sweatbands, and carrying basketballs.
School chairman Jane Watt got a standing ovation when introduced by principal Dr. Chris Pellant. She detailed some of the obstacles the MIA team had faced in launching the school, and urged the students not to take no for an answer.
They watched a short film that made the point, “a leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.” Pellant told the group the school had not received promised funding until the last moment.
“We didn’t get our startup grant until 12 days ago,” he said.
Speaking privately, Pellant said he was delighted to actually have the school year underway.
“For me, it’s so exciting to see the kids here. It’s just been a vision for so long,” he said.
At Marco Island Charter Middle School, social studies teacher Joe Jarrett acted as tour guide for a group of new sixth grade students, pointing out important information such as where to go for lunch, and what the principal looks like.
Back at Tommie Barfield, new fifth grade teacher Rachel Schatzberg put the kids to work sorting glue sticks, colored paper and markers, and took care of a few peripheral but important questions.
“Show of hands,” she said, “everybody know how they’re getting home today? Good.”
MICMS science teacher Carrie Bamberger found kids lost in the halls, and pointed them in the right direction. Soon it will all be ‘old school,’ and teachers and students alike will settle into the routine, but for one day, the school year brought change for everyone.