Latest Kenosha News Article

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School Days: Day 1
9/7/07By Karen Mahoney

SALEM — When Peggy Van Aken learned that she was expecting a baby, she was stunned. After all, her only child, Chelsea was already 13 years old. Five years, two months and 28 days after she was born, Claudia Van Aken was ready Thursday for her first day of kindergarten at Salem Grade School. Her teacher will be Linda Fisher, the same teacher big sister Chelsea had for kindergarten. In a scene that took place so many times this week, here’s how one little girl got ready for the first day of what will be her main activity for the next 13 years:

6:20 a.m. The Little Einstein’s lunch box sits on the kitchen counter with packs of SpongeBob Cheeseits and SpongeBob fruit snacks sitting beside. “We packed all of that last night,” said Peggy, “She’s also bringing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and broccoli, she just loves raw vegetables.”

6:30 a.m. Peggy climbs the stairs to Claudia’s bedroom, bends over and plants a kiss on her cheek. “This is your big school day,” she announced. Rolling over, Claudia whispers, “I know Mommy, but you waked me up too soon!” Still half asleep, Claudia sits up, rubs her eyes and carries “Tick,” her teddy bear, and “Bluebird,” her stuffed bird, down to breakfast.

6:40 a.m.
“Good morning sunshine,” Claudia’s father, Chris, says, giving Claudia a hug and a kiss. “What do you want for your breakfast?” Walking toward the refrigerator, Peggy opens the freezer and pulls out a square box, “She asked for pancakes,” she says. “Well, make sure mommy makes you some bacon too,” Chris says, winking to Claudia.

6:45 a.m. “This is one thing that has changed since we sent Chelsea to kindergarten so long ago, I used to make everything from scratch, now I just microwave it and it’s ready,” Peggy says. Claudia eagerly eats her pancakes and bacon and, between chugs of chocolate milk, wonders, “What about Mommy’s breakfast?” Sheepishly, Peggy retorts, “Well, I had a Diet Pepsi.”

6:50 a.m. Chris announces he is leaving for work. “Aren’t you going to stay until she leaves,” Peggy questions. “No, I can’t stay back here and watch you cry,” Chris says. “Hey I am not so bad, I might not even cry at all,” responds Peggy. Chris gives Claudia a kiss, “Have a good day sweetheart …” he adds.“Hey Dad,” Claudia giggles, “don’t make me come over there. Bye-bye daddy.”

7:10 a.m. Dressed in a lime green, polka-dotted knit dress, white socks and matching lime green Crocs, Claudia is nearly ready — except for her hair. Sitting behind her, Peggy sprays her hair while combing through the tangles. “Don’t squirt me in the face!” yelps Claudia. “You have so many curls underneath, I have to comb them,” explains Peggy.

7:20 a.m. Claudia licks the top of the toothpaste tube after placing the paste on her toothbrush. “Hey don’t lick that tube, I use that stuff too,” Peggy says. Claudia giggles and brushes her teeth.

7:23 a.m. Standing in front of her parents’ full length mirror, Claudia gives herself a ‘thumbs up.’

7:25 a.m. Peggy and Claudia fill the lunchbox and zip it up. “Ta-Da I am finished,” Claudia shouts. Claudia hurriedly replaces the folder, crams her lunchbox inside the backpack. “There goes the sandwich,” groans Peggy.

7:30 a.m. Peggy places the backpack on Claudia’s shoulders to adjust the straps. “Let’s see if we can get this to fit you right,” she says, pulling them snug. Claudia tilts her head to look at the backpack and mumbles, “ The backpack feels fi ne Mommy, but when I squish my arms up against the straps, it sticks.”

7:35 a.m. Claudia spends a few minutes in the playroom before leaving for the bus, picks up several Bionicles and Star Wars creatures, talking to them while she plays. According to Peggy, Claudia has never been interested in dolls or dressing up as a princess. “She’d rather play with Star Wars stuff and dress up as Darth Vader than wear a feather boa,” she says.

7:45 a.m. Peggy announces it’s time to put on the backpack and walk to the bus. “Do we have enough time, still?” asks Claudia. “Yes, you do have time,” says Peggy as they walk out the door. “My mind is racing as to what I am going to do today … The malls don’t open up this early, do they?”

7:48 a.m. Claudia greets children in the neighborhood as a group of eight congregate at the bus stop. “Hi Kyle” says Claudia, waving her hands. Peggy strokes Claudia’s hair. “Are you going to be OK?” Claudia shrugs off her mom’s hand, “Yes, mommy, I am not scared!”

7:50 a.m. The bus pulls up and Claudia hops on, turns once more to catch a glimpse of her mom and turns to sit down in her seat.

7:52 a.m. “Well, that’s that,” admitts Peggy. “I’ll be going home now and both girls won’t be there. I wonder what I’ll do now?”

8:10 a.m. Claudia is the first student off the bus and greets 13-year-old Dakota Berry of Trevor. Berry, an eighth-grader, is assigned as one of the school’s many ‘Helping Hands” to assist students in kindergarten through second grade in locating their classrooms. Grasping Claudia’s hand, he walks her through the long hall into Room 106, where Mrs. Fisher is waiting at the door.

8:15 a.m. “Hello Claudia!” says Mrs. Fisher. “I am so excited to have you here. I remember teaching your sister Chelsea a long time ago.”

8:20 a.m. Sitting in the middle of a row of students, Claudia unloads her backpack and at the instruction of Mrs. Fisher puts her lunchbox on top of the room’s refrigerator. “You can also put your backpack on the hook in your cubby,” her teacher says. Claudia hangs up her backpack and points to a pair of sneakers on the shelf above the hook, “Those are my fast shoes up there.” Class is about to begin.

3 thoughts on “Latest Kenosha News Article

  1. That was such a cute article, Karen! Congrats! Loved the photos too. I would have died of embarrasement if someone had photographed ME at school on my first day. And I probably would have burst into tears!


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