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School hosts inaugural kindergarten orientation

Godwin Heights — Call it the ABCs of starting school.

With greetings of “Good morning!” and “Welcome to West Godwin,” the district’s class of 2035 started their K-12 careers Aug. 22 by making history: as the first to have a kindergarten orientation.

In the past, kindergartners started school much like West Godwin’s first- and second-graders, either riding the bus or being dropped off by a parent. The challenges, said Principal Mary Lang, are students that young can have difficulty identifying themselves, which then makes it tough for staff to assure every student gets safely where they need to be.

Related Story: Come on in – finally!

A New Routine

After parents and students arrived, each student’s photo was taken and automatically uploaded to the school’s management system, which Lang said will make it easier for staff to identify them. 

Then it was a matter of finding their teacher’s name on the wall and getting in line behind it, similar to the start of what will become their regular school day.

From there, teachers led students and parents to their classroom, where hallway coat and backpack hooks were pointed out, seats were found, introductions were made, and name bracelets and backpack tags were distributed.

The half-day event wrapped up as parents headed back to the gym to get drop-off and pick-up procedures and other information.

West Godwin students and parents line up for the kindergarten orientation
West Godwin kindergarten students and parents are greeted by staff as they enter the building

Better Prepared, More Comfortable

“I had Mrs. Haslacker when I was in fifth grade,” recalled Jenna Welc, whose daughter, La’mia Haskins, waved from her seat.

Kindergarten teacher Jessica Haslacker helps La’mia Haskins with her name bracelet

“I love being able to come to the school,” Welc said. “(La’mia) is not used to being by herself yet. She got to see all her old friends, and then being here with her gives me the opportunity to see what she will be doing.”

Josiah Preston, whose son, Josiah Preston Jr. is in Holly Vostad’s class, agreed, especially since it was his first child to enter school.

Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Haslacker told her classroom of parents and students that she appreciated all who came.

“For the past few years, it has been hard to have parents in the classroom, and many do not come in the buildings,” Haslacker said. “I am super excited to have you all here as it gives me a chance to get to know you.”

This year, West Godwin had 130 kindergarten students, up from last year. 

“We were thrilled with the turnout for our kindergarten orientation event,” Lang said. “We had a lot of positive comments from parents that they felt much more prepared to send their child off to kindergarten and they felt like their children felt much more comfortable as well. It was great having so many parents in the building.”

Kindergarten teacher Holly Vostad talks to students and parents about class structure
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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma covers Kent ISD and Godwin Heights. She was born in the Detroit area but grew up in Brighton where she attended Hartland Public Schools. The salutatorian for the Class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism and minored in photography and German. She expanded her color palette to include orange and black as both her daughters graduated from Byron Center Public Schools; maroon and white for Aquinas College where her daughter studies nursing and also brought back blue and maize for Grand Rapids Community College where her youngest daughter currently is studying music. Read Joanne's full bio

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