January 2-3, 2011
Max will begin Kindergarten this fall. We are lucky to have a great county with many wonderful schools. Jay and I are both products of these schools and are thankful for the education we received. Our county is also blessed to have some special public schools such as magnet and choice schools. Jay and I agreed a long time ago that we wanted him to attend a certain school in the county. The school was started about 10 years ago as a year-round school. It was the only one in the county so it took applications and commitments to attend there as a student. Some of those were that there would be no busing (so parents had to provide transportation), selective scheduling, and the applying to become a student. Each of our nephews and niece and several friends' children attend the school. Seeing the positive responses from parents and students alike and excellence that comes out of the school helped to confirm our initial desire for Max to attend. A few years ago the entire county went to a year-round schedule. This caused the school to have to adapt a different focus to remain a selective school. Union chose to become a STEM school. This stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. I am realistic and don't think that just because of the focus Max will work for NASA at age 12, but I think it is a realistic focus for the modern world. Each of these elements are very important in today's society and I don't think that a little more emphasis on them will hurt him. Now to the application problem . . . as the school has grown in popularity, the application line got crazy. When my now 10 year old nephew was preparing for Kindergarten my brother-in-law simply faxed in the paper the day they started accepting them. Then 2 years later my sister-in-law faxed in my niece's paper at midnight. Now several years and a new principal later, it has gotten more competitive. The new principal sort of did away with the fax option at midnight. Now parents are turning in the applications in person rather than faxing. As the first day of receiving applications approached we learned about the past few years. We heard a story that 2 years ago the parents started a line outside the school at approximately 4:00 am, and then the story from last year was that the line started at 8:30 pm. Last year all the Kindergarten spots were taken before midnight by parents in line and the principal wasn't scheduled to arrive until 6:00 am the next day. What? Black Friday Camp-outs for Kindergarten? No Way, Wow! I worried and fretted, talked to other PreK moms, and we planned it out. A group of us came up with a plan of stalking the school on a schedule until we saw the first car. Once one was spotted we sent out the messages and calls and we all headed that way. After an agonizing morning the call came at just before 2:00 pm. Ahh! When you do the math that means we would be in our cars for 16 hours before applications would be accepted. Pure craziness. Of course, to secure Max’s spot I dashed over there and was in line by 2:30 pm as the 4th car. To everyone's amazement by 5:00 pm there were approximately 35-40 cars in line and this meant that all the Kindergarten spots were taken with another 13 hours to wait. Well, to our amazement the principal showed up a little past 5:00 pm, passed out numbers as we were in line, and told us to park and come inside the gym. He told us that due to the rules that had been posted by the school, that applications would not be collected before 6:00 am he had to wait until then. He informed us that he didn't want us in the 18 degree spitting snow weather. It was also mentioned that due to the competiveness to get in on the first come basis he would probably be going to a lottery for the next years. He instructed us to bring in our stuff and set up our camp-out in the gym where he would also be staying. So basically . . . we did. We all carried in our pillows and blankets, games and computers, food and drinks, etc. The guys hooked up the computer to an internet hot spot and speakers to watch the games. The girls looked at magazines, surfed the Internet, and chatted. It was a real bonding experience. We will be spending the next 13 years together so the bonding was nice because now we will have relationships with other parents before they kids actually start school. I wouldn't say it was great, but it was do-able, and I am thankful that younger sis gets grandfathered in. :-) Kindergarten here we come.