FAYETTE — Fourth-grader Claire Rose Cunningham greeted her fellow students entering Fayette Central School around her. 

“It is good to see you,” she said to each of them.

And when she saw librarian Margie Bruen, Cunningham reached out her arms to give her a hug. 

Prekindergarten student Abel Adams, left, scoops up a cup of flour to use in a cookie recipe as River Bamford looks on Wednesday during the first day of the new school year at Fayette Central School. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“It is nice to see everyone you have missed seeing all summer,” she said. 

It was the first day of classes for the single-school district. Teachers and faculty members greeted each student, commenting on how they had grown during the summer. 

As a school with only 77 students, the school community has a close rapport. 

Molly Williams, a mother of three, waited at the school entrance for her oldest daughter. Olivia is in prekindergarten, and it was the mother and daughter’s very first of first days.

Mother Meagan Desjardins offered words of encouragement to Williams. 

“They are in good hands,” said Desjardins, whose son, Carter, is in fifth grade. “That is what is nice,  it is such a small school.” 

“It is exciting — I am so happy for her,” said Williams, adding, “But I am a little nerve-wracked.”

Olivia exited the first of two buses that transported children in the district. When she saw her mother, she ran.

“You did it!” said Williams, scooping Olivia into a hug. Olivia is one of six pre-K students in Sue Morin’s class.

In the classroom, Clifford the Big Red Dog looked down on the students. The brightly decorated classroom included play areas to drive Matchbox cars and a dollhouse with miniature furniture pieces.

Jayce Ducharme, who had come to school on a school bus, drove a miniature version on a road rug.

Each item in the classroom was designed to both teach and play, such as stuffed letters and dolls who assisted teaching the alphabet. 

“Willaby Wallaby” helped students learn each other’s names. Whoever held the stuffed animal had to toss it to the person whose named rhymed with the lyrics in the song. 

“We work a lot on routines and just being at school,” Morin explained, “things like lining up and playing with friends.”

Following breakfast, the children learned where to empty juice boxes, discard trays and wash up. 

Prekindergarten teacher Sue Morin signals her approval of how her students lined up after breakfast Wednesday, the first day of the new school year at Fayette Central School. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Back in the classroom, the pre-K students eagerly announced the numbers up to 28, which was the day of the month. The higher the numbers, the fewer the students who kept up, but the enthusiasm never waned. 

“The first day we are kind of feeling out where everybody is at and how much they can do,” said Morin. “I do not expect to see kids count to 28 on the first day of pre-K, but it’s nice to see some can.”

FCS serves students from pre-K to fifth grade, while older students are transported to nearby — Maranacook, Spruce Mountain or Winthrop — districts for grades six through 12.

Morin, who has been teaching at the school since 2002, said the pre-K class of six this year was small; last year she had 13 students.

River Bamford’s parents, Jeremy and Nicole, brought her to school Wednesday. Nicole also works at the school, including as a health aide and in a response-to-intervention role.

In the classroom Wednesday morning, River played with two dolls she said were twins.

“This one is named Rose,” she said, sliding the second baby doll near, “and this is Rose, too.”

Though River is not Jeremy’s only child, this was his first opportunity to attend the first day of pre-K for a little one. 

“She is really excited to be starting school,” said Jeremy, who also went to Fayette as a child himself.

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