Kids Grin and Bear It as School Starts Again

Photo by RJSmith
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) waits with his daughter on the first day of school
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) waits with his daughter on the first day of school
Cool air, heavy with humidity and expectation, greeted hundreds of kids bobbing through the gates on the first day of school at Hyde-Addison Elementary Monday. In their faces was that unmistakable mix of nerves and optimism -- a new year, a clean slate  -- or these days, maybe a blank screen?

"Are you excited?" a reporter asked bright-eyed Isa Orr-Tokle, 10 years old, on her first day of
Siv Tokle and Isa Orr-Tokle (Photo by: RJSmith) Siv Tokle and Isa Orr-Tokle
fifth grade. She paused. "Sort of," came the answer. But then she squealed at the sight of an old friend. "Old" meaning under age 11 in this case.

"We're getting ready for bake sales," her mother Siv Tokle said. Every week or two, the kids will be bringing sweets to school to raise money for a class trip at the end of the year. "We have about 10 bakes to do," Mom said. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious Norwegian cookie recipes at home.

Presumably D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh's efforts to improve kids' diets won't halt sales of brownies, muffins and peanut butter chocolate chips. And what about Girl Scout Cookies?

Back on the playground, parents wielded video cameras and SLRs. Strolling into the scene came fashion maven and Propper Topper owner Anna Fuhrman, breezing through the gates with
Joe Kerr, Anna Fuhrman and Lucy Kerr, with Cassady looking on (Photo by: RJSmith) Joe Kerr, Anna Fuhrman and Lucy Kerr, with Cassady looking on
husband Joe Kerr and daughter Lucy, who is starting kindergarten this year.  "I was always the one hanging on my mom's skirt and trying to slip back out the gate," Fuhrman said later. "but Lucy was absolutely raring to take on her new crowd." Their dog Cassady looked more nervous than Lucy, who sprinted through the gate to the playground.

Good dad that he is, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) mingled amiably and stood near daughter Grace. He demurred, some would say wisely, when asked about the state of the school system in Washington and the upcoming election. "I'm just here as a parent," Dodd shrugged innocently.

Fifth-grader London Harmon broke into a big smile when asked what she was expecting. "I
Christiane and Chloe Steward are reunited with London and Leslie Harmon (Photo by: RJSmith) Christiane and Chloe Steward are reunited with London and Leslie Harmon
think its gonna be fun," she said of the upcoming year. Her mother wore the look of an enthusiastic child's lucky parent. Mom Leslie has earned that luck. She worked for two years to get London into Hyde-Addison, starting in 2004. For the first time this year, London will take the bus to school with her mom, rather than being driven. "We're trying it," Leslie said. Leslie skipped off to join Chloe Steward, who had come with her mom Christiane, wielding a small video camera.

Approaching from Wisconsin over the cobblestones on O Street, Rhonda Anderson reached the scene with her two blond sons who have just moved into Georgetown from Panama City, Florida. Third-grader Grady showed no
Ty and Grady Anderson (Photo by: RJSmith) Ty and Grady Anderson
apprehension despite being new to the District and new to the school. "I love my new teacher," he said, having met Mr. Faden for the first time in the past few weeks. "I'm excited because we'll have harder math questions, I hope," Grady said. Little brother Ty felt the need to give a reality check. "All he does is play Zelda," the video game, Ty said.  That was the day before school started.