Mr. O answers questions about getting ready for kindergarten
Mr. O answers questions about getting ready for kindergarten
Brit Milazzo
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Kindergarten registration is coming up at Bald Eagle Area School District, and in the question and answer below, Director of Elementary Education Jim Orichosky speaks with our public relations specialist to answer some questions. He’s also the principal at Wingate Elementary School.

If you live within the boundaries of the district and your child will be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2019, then they are eligible for kindergarten registration. You may also find registration packets at each district elementary school. You may also contact the administrative office for more information, at (814) 355-3737.

Port Matilda Elementary School: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 18
Mountaintop Area Elementary School: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 19
Howard Elementary School: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 20
Wingate Elementary School: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 21

If you plan to attend any of the kindergarten registration events, please be sure to bring your child’s birth certificate; immunization records; custody papers, if applicable; and a completed physical form from your child’s doctor or appointment date for your child’s scheduled physical. If you have any questions regarding medical information, contact elementary school nurse Lauryn Bostdorf at (814) 355-4872.

Question and Answer with Jim Orichosky

Question: Take me through the preparation to start getting ready for kindergarten registration.

Answer: Probably the biggest thing we do is take a look at numbers that we think will come into kindergarten. We are able to look at some of the census information, look at some births that were in the county that students should be coming of age for kindergarten for us. That gives us an idea of the numbers that are coming in, and then it’s just about setting up some dates of our kindergarten registration, sending those dates out to parents and setting up a nice evening event to come in and register. ... You’d be really surprised at how accurate the census numbers from the county are. I’ve been a principal here at Wingate (Elementary School) for (17) years and I’m amazed at how accurate they are. Unique to Bald Eagle and how large we are area-wise, our three outlying elementary schools are sometimes the areas where the numbers can be up and down.

Q: What do families need to do to be prepared for kindergarten registration?

A: We have registration packets at each of our buildings, we have them at the district office and online, as well -- if parents can get on there or stop and get a packet and have those filled out ahead of time, that just makes things a lot smoother. If you could bring (the child’s) birth certificate, immunization records, any custody papers if there happen to be any, (proof of) a physical (form) from you doctor. Those are the main things. … That night is really a nice casual night. What we do is have parents fill out the paperwork, (and) we have some photo opportunities and the chance to go back to all the kindergarten classrooms. Teachers will be there and talk to you and really just get an idea of who those teachers are, what it’s like, and we really try to make it a nice atmosphere that night for everybody.

Q: What tips do you have for families to help with the transition of their child going to school?

A: The first thing I say every year is this transition to kindergarten is way harder for parents than it is for students. Students come in and make things happen, get comfortable real quick, and they get to know other students and become a part of our school community. But its tough on a parent to make that transition. The biggest thing I try to tell parents is to trust us. We’ve been doing this a long time and we have amazing teachers. Our kindergarten teachers are amazing and our whole staff is just amazing. The bottom line is that we’re going to take care of your kids, and I think we do a great job of that.

Q: In what other ways does the district help prepare new students for the transition into school?

A: Kindergarten Camp was started about 10 years ago and it has just been a great program for us and helps in that transition. They come in in the morning, and teachers are here. They get to see the routines of the classroom, and we bring in a bus and get them in the cafeteria every day. It’s just a really nice couple days of transition for students, so when they come in here those first days, it’s just not thrown at them.

Q: What does kindergarten curriculum look like?

A: Kindergarten is so different. There are no nap times. We see that on TV shows and movies, and maybe some of us growing up had that. Kindergarten is definitely a tight program, but we always take into consideration that these are 5 and 6 year old children. In the years that I’ve been doing this, the one thing the parents always say is they can’t believe how much the student learns in their kindergarten year. And they’re ready for it! But we also make sure we get in recess time, read alouds (and) have fun activities, so even though the day has changed to more of an academic-oriented program, it’s still just a nice time. I say this all the time: elementary schools are awesome! I love being part of an elementary school and working in an elementary school, but there is nothing like going down to the kindergarten rooms and seeing how excited they are to learn, so we try to build off that excitement. That’s the one thing we always talk about with teachers – let’s make sure we can keep up that excitement they come in with and keep that moving through the grades.