Sounds From The First Day Of School

Sep 2, 2014
Originally published on September 2, 2014 5:14 pm

The day after Labor Day is traditionally the end of summer break and the start of the school year. But for students in many parts of the country, the school year has already started.

Whether you're struggling to find your classroom or remember your locker combination, the first day is a big one for students, teachers and families.

With millions of children headed back to school, we asked reporters from member stations around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day:

  • In Marfa, Texas, a 14-year-old who's been home-schooled all his life is about to enter a classroom for the first time. (Tom Michael, KRTS)
  • Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School is celebrating its opening day in downtown Brooklyn. (Beth Fertig, WNYC)
  • The Newcomer School is a school for kids who are on their first or second year in the U.S. (Devin Katayama, WFPL)
  • First days aren't just high stress for students. At Noble Street-Rauner College Prep, a 22-year-old is preparing to teach his very first class. (Becky Vevea, WBEZ)
  • Students at the Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy in Austin, Texas, are learning how to tie their own ties. (Kate McGee, KUT)
  • Students at Bailey STEM Magnet School in Nashville prepare to launch their own hot air balloons. (Emily Siner, WPLN)
  • A kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the Seattle suburb of Burien starts the first day of school the way you might expect: with the ABCs. (Ann Dornfeld, KUOW)

To hear more sounds from the first day of school, click below:

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It's the day after Labor Day, traditionally the end of summer break. School had already started in some parts of country and many more schools opened their doors today. Finding your classroom, getting a locker, the first day is a big one for students, families and teachers. And so, we asked reporters around the country to bring us the sounds of that first day. We'll hear from Tennessee, New York, Washington State and to begin we'll go to Marfa, Texas with Tom Michael of member station KRTS.

TOM MICHAEL: Coby Seegers is about to enter a classroom for the very first time. He's not a kindergartener, he's 14-years-old. But all his life he's been homeschooled by his parents in rural West Texas.

COBY SEEGERS: Home-school, you had more vacation time. You didn't have any set schedule you just had to finish your work.

PEGGY SEEGERS: We're Christians and we wanted to integrate the Bible and give our kids a really solid foundation in the Bible - biblical principles and just leading a godly life.

MICHAEL: That's his mother - Peggy. She sits on the front porch of her home, one block from the public school. She's excited by the prospect of Coby gaining pre-college training in a program called dual credit. But she has worries too.

P. SEEGERS: We've talked about peer pressure and the things that go on in public schools. My concerns are that the way other kids act.

MICHAEL: Another temptation for Coby is sports.

COBY: I'm probably looking forward to football and agricultural mechanics.

MICHAEL: As for his mother, she's looking forward to a little more free time.

P. SEEGERS: My day will be very different and this is the first day of it. So, we'll see how that goes.

BETH FERTIG: From WNYC, I'm Beth Fetrig in New York for opening day at a brand new charter school in downtown Brooklyn.

TAJI BROWN: I'm actually excited for making movies because making movie - animation cartoons.

FERTIG: Taji Brown and his classmates are excited about the focus on technology at Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School. It's in a neighborhood full of high-tech companies and universities.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: And I would like to make a movie too. Maybe - if we worked together we would make a movie because I know enough.

FERTIG: Principal Eric Tucker says each student will get a laptop.

ERIC TUCKER: We believe that students need to be designers, producers, makers, tinkerers.

FERTIG: English teacher Nora Goda told her class the laptops will also come in handy for everyday activities like classwork and writing assignments and she'll participate too.

NORA GODA: And I can see what you're typing from my computer and I'm giving you feedback - I'm saying no that's not the main idea or move this sentence over here - immediately. How does that make you feel? JZ?

JZ: A little bit scary.

GODA: Scary? Why?

JZ: Because you can see what we're writing.

GODA: 'Cause I'm watching you.

FERTIG: Well, not yet. The kids aren't getting their laptops until later this month. The school was also having Internet problems on opening day.

GODA: That's the nature of technology right?

FERTIG: Like a lot of New Yorkers, Brooklyn Lab was waiting for the cable company.

KATE MCGEE: From KUT this is Kate McGee in Austin, Texas where I'm watching seventh graders at new public all-boys school learn how to tie their own ties. Counselor Sabrina Brown is surrounded in the cafeteria showing Martin Gonzales how it's done.

SABRINA BROWN: And we're going to go through your neck. Make sure you keep your finger on it. Right? And then we're going through the front hole and pull it down.

MARTIN GONZALES: This is so weird. I look like I'm going to work.

BROWN: Start fixing your knot after you're done.

STERLIN MCGRUDER: My name is Sterlin McGruder and I'm the principal of Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy. Economically disadvantaged about 95 percent of our young men and English language learner about 42 percent. Special-ed - so, pretty much one in five of our young men are special-ed.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I know how to do it but when I do it it's like way down here.

MCGRUDER: So, you make it - so, what you do is bring this side up a little bit, if it's too long. You see what I'm saying?

MCGEE: There are more than 400 boys in this school and part of the program is that every day each one will wear the uniform. Khaki pants, button up shirt and a tie, McGruder tells them they look pretty good.

MCGRUDER: When you're dressed up, I feel good about myself. When I came to school yesterday and today I felt like a leader. I felt confident about what I do because of the tie that I have on.

CHRISTIAN SAWYER: Good morning. Good morning.

EMILY SINER: From WPLN, I'm Emily Siner in Nashville, Tennessee.

SAWYER: Good morning. Good morning, 2014-2015 is officially starting.

SINER: Bailey STEM Magnet School, Principal Christian Sawyer is trying to shake as many hands as he can as middle schoolers squeeze through the front doors.

SAWYER: Good to see you. Hi, good morning.

SINER: Sawyer wanted something big on day one to get students fired up for the new year. Like a science project. Teacher Julie Hasjford came up with the answer after she found forgotten in a school closet a hot air balloon launcher.

JULIE HASJFORD: So, we are launching the new school year with a hot air balloon launch. And you guys are going to get to go outside and be a part of that this morning.

SINER: As Hasjford takes a group of students to the front lawn and holds up a six- foot tall balloon. It's made out of purple and yellow tissue paper. It spells out Bailey in tissue paper letters on the side. Hooked up to the metal launcher is a rubber hose. She turned on the gas.


HASJFORD: And we're going to put this over the top, it'll fill with hot air and when we let it go it should go - should go to the top of the school building if not higher. We'll see.

SINER: Principal Sawyer tells the students to hold hands.


CROWD: 3-2-1.

SINER: The balloon flies for a few seconds and then the wind carries it sideways and it gets stuck in a tree.


ANN DORNFELD: From KUOW, I'm Ann Dornfeld in Seattle. In Nathalie Alonzo's kindergarten class at Hazel Valley Elementary in the suburb of Burien. The children started their educational careers, right where you might expect.

NATHALIE ALONZO: We'll start with a song. How many knows the ABC song?


ALONZO: Yes, you ready? Here we go.




UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z. Now I know my ABCs next time won't you sing with me?

ALONZO: Yay. Give yourselves a hand. Give yourselves a hand.


BLOCK: As seen from the classroom on the first day of school in Burien, Washington we also heard from first days in Nashville, Austin, New York, and Marfa, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.