Cascadia Elementary is a special place! One of the things that makes us different is our students entering the school at every grade level, every year. That’s a lot of opportunity to meet new people, make friends, attend an awesome new school, and, um, worry, overthink, and perseverate!
One of my favorite things about being at Cascadia, though, is welcoming new friends. It’s almost the end of the summer, and back to school night is (gulp!) tonight, so you probably already have a lot of this under control. But let’s say you’re still not sure what to expect at back to school night, or on the first morning, or from the buses and pick-up/drop-off. If so, please keep reading!
Back to School Night
Think “managed chaos.” One of my favorite things about back-to-school night is seeing my son disappear into the building, which is a safe and trusted space for us now. But here’s how the “managed” part works:
- Nametags: Volunteers will be standing by tables in front of the school with good, old-fashioned stick-on nametags for everyone to write names on. Often, you can pick a colored dot to add to indicate student grade level.
- First-day packets: Walk into the building, and meet the best administrative staff EVER, who will find the correct packet(s) for you. Yep. They’re organized by grade level and student. Because we care. Enjoy the paperwork when you get home, and do note, there may be a few important action items in the packet to return to school with your Dragon. (If you can’t attend the event, the paperwork will be sent home on the first day of school … hence the name.)
- Passports: Students can pick up a “passport” and tour the school, getting their passport stamped along the way. Fifth-grade student volunteers are posted around the school to help students navigate. Even returning students will be challenged to find new locations this year!
- Meeting your teacher: Swing by your classroom to meet your awesome, friendly, amazing, and talented teacher. (Do I exaggerate? Not really.) Classrooms may not be set up for visiting, but you might get lucky!
- Treats: Come to the playground for an ice cream or popsicle, to play and mingle.
Need to know: Teachers, staff and PTA board wear very fancy fabric leis to indicate our roles, which just means, feel free to ask us questions when you see us!
That’s about it! Shall we move on?
First Day of School
Playground supervision at Cascadia starts at 7:35am. On the first day of school, many families drive, walk and bike to school with their students, and others ride the bus. If you come to school with your Dragon, you’ll probably see something like the photo above: A lot of people! Gather on the playground, where teachers will come to collect students. This routine will happen every day after this. However, this is the ONLY day where adults get FREE COFFEE after they wave goodbye to their students. Coffee & snacks will be available on the playground after the bell. (It’s okay if your kids cry. It’s okay if YOU cry. It’s also okay if you do your own private celebratory dance. We don’t judge.)
Drop-off and Pick-up:
Principal Wallace covers this in her email, but you probably want to know things like, what’s the best time to drop off and pick up? How late can I leave work/home/the dentist, and still be on time? How bad are parking and traffic?
The good news is, if you can get your people to school by 7:45am, Google’s traffic times are fairly accurate, and (after the first day or two) there’s no waiting to get into the parking lot. You can drive through, drop off the students, and carry on. You do have to turn right out of the parking lot. The bad news is, if you plan to arrive at 7:55am, you will be late, because all of a sudden a line forms out the parking lot driveway. However, you can also park in the Robert Eaglestaff/Licton Springs parking area west of Cascadia, and walk between the schools next to the playfield.
More good news: In the afternoon (again, after the first few days), there’s not generally a lot of traffic around the school and street parking is pretty available, as are spaces in the lot. You may wait in your car if you like, or join the folks waiting by the door. Most families use buses and/or afterschool care, so pickup is generally lightly populated.
Now the last item (for now): Bus transportation.
Bus transportation can be awesome! Many of our Dragons enjoy extra time with friends and the time to decompress between schoolwork expectations and home expectations. At the same time, we have seen many and varied challenges with the buses. Some are late; some drivers are amazingly timely; some are crowded; and some are just confusing! I recommend you do these things:
- Try the bus! It gives you many extra hours in your day, and is good for the environment. Plus, your kids might make friends on the bus, and you could meet new neighbors at the bus stop and build relationships there.
- Enter your bus route information in Dan’s bus map form. Dan is a Cascadia parent who volunteered to do this once, and is now stuck with the job for life.
- Contact Transportation (see Principal Wallace’s email again). There might be a better stop or route for you, or information may be missing. Another parent can give you a hint but can’t solve the problem.
- Use Facebook? Many people use the Cascadia Facebook group to communicate regarding buses. (Side note: If you requested to join the group, look for the questions to complete to be approved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.)
If you’ve read this far, I congratulate you! And thank you for listening.