Talawanda Students Venture into a New School Year


Students Ezra Pechan-Keeton, Brooklyn Porchowsky, Ellie Porchowsky, and Mira Pechan-Keeton pose for pictures in front of Kramer Elementary on the first day of school Wednesday. Photo by Halie Barger

By Halie Barger

Brooklyn and Ellie Porchowsky grabbed their backpacks Wednesday morning and ran toward Kramer Elementary School, yelling to get their friends’ attention.

“I’m a fourth grader,” Brooklyn said.

The girls crossed the street to the school while chatting about everything that they will get to experience this year.

“I’ll be playing soccer, and Ellie’s on my team, and my dad is the assistant coach,” Brooklyn said.

Most of the 3,000 students in the five schools of Talawanda School District started classes  Wednesday. Kindergarten and first grade don’t start school until Monday, Aug. 19.  

“It’s nice that they let the younger kids start later, so they can get to know the school,” said Emali Porchowsky, Brooklyn and Ellie’s mother.

Everything happens consecutively for the Porchowskys because the girls are only a year apart.

“I’m starting third grade this year,” Ellie said.

According to Porchowsky, third grade comes with big changes for Ellie.

“Ellie will be upstairs with the big kids this year,” Porchowsky said.

Third graders also start to learn health as a part of their science curriculum, according to Ellie’s first day course schedule.

“They start state testing for the third grade this year,” Porchowsky said. “They were practicing last year, but this year is when it actually gets serious.”

Brooklyn and Ellie sported their new first day of school outfits, as they walked through Kramer’s doors.

“We got them from TJ Maxx. I was going to wear a jumper too,”  Brooklyn said. “I decided to save that for picture day.”

According to Brooklyn, there are many advantages to being in the fourth grade. One example is having her own laptop in class.

“I get to use the book mobile to check out e-books from the library too,” Brooklyn said.

Ellie added in that she gets new privileges as well.

“I get un-homework,” Ellie said.

“Un-homework” is a program where students complete activities at home to gain tickets instead of doing homework, according to Ellie.

The list of school supplies for the third grade was standard—pencils, Clorox wipes, crayons, and Expo markers top the list. The teacher did ask for specific name brands of items explaining on the list that those brands will last all year long.

Shoes squeaked and voices echoed through the halls as the girls navigated their way through the school to meet their teachers.

Ellie decided to take the long way to the classroom.

“I wanted to give the grand tour,” she said. “This is the cafeteria, isn’t it huge?”

Brooklyn walked ahead determined to start the day.

“Mom, I don’t want you to walk me to my classroom,” Brooklyn said. “I’m too old for that now.”

According to Porchowsky, Brooklyn only has two more years in the elementary school before she heads to Talawanda Middle School.

“I’m not ready for them to start middle school,” Porchowsky said. “We’ve been through that once with our oldest.”

Brooklyn parted ways with her mother and met up with her friends. Ellie weaved quickly through the students stopping in to visit her old second-grade teacher, Mary Johnson, and then saying hello to her sister’s third grade teacher from last year, Brittany Hargis.

Teacher Bethany Kuhl greets third-grader Ellie Porchowsky, Wednesday, on the first day of school at Kramer Elementary School.  Photo courtesy of Emali Porchowsky

“I’m nervous, but excited,” Ellie said. “I like school, but also it’s awful.”

The outside of the classroom was decorated in a Hawaiian theme with a sign reading “Aloha Third Grade.” Ellie stopped for a photo opportunity with her teacher, Bethany Kuhl.

“Finally we’re here,” Ellie said.

Her teacher greeted her with a hug and a high-five. Ellie quickly hugged her mom and ran into the class getting lost in a sea of students eager to start the first day.