Although school begins this week for many students, the 121 4 year olds signed up for the Fredonia-Dunkirk universal pre-kindergarten program will not enter the classrooms officially until Sept. 10.
According to Fredonia Elementary Assistant Principal and Pre-K Director Ryan Sikorski, teachers will be meeting with parents and children this week on an individual basis to begin to make the students comfortable with their first day of school next week.
"The teachers will be meeting with them on a one-on-one basis to make sure the experience is less threatening before their first day," he explained.
Over 80 students and parents also participated in a visit to the Wheelock school on Aug. 29.
Sikorski said another strategy the program is doing to make the beginning of school less threatening for pre-kindergartners is a "staggered start."
He explained this will break up the classes into smaller parts for the first three days and then on Sept. 13, a Friday, the program will start at full strength.
Sikorski explained right now there are five classes in the morning and afternoon sessions and registration is still open. He said currently 66 Fredonia students are registered and 55 Dunkirk students.
"We are happy we got that many kids but registration is still ongoing. We have room for about 25 more Dunkirk students and registration is open to all Fredonia students," he said.
He also explained that there is busing to the program from Dunkirk. He said there is one bus for each session, which picks up students from home and takes them to the Wheelock school and also returns them at the end of the day.
Officials from both districts said they are excited for the program to begin.
"We are excited. It is a nice opportunity to be at the Wheelock school. We spent a lot of time there and we are looking forward to a productive collaboration," Dunkirk City Schools Superintendent Gary Cerne said.
Fredonia Superintendent echoed Cerne's excitement.
"We are very excited. We have worked closely with Dunkirk and Erie 2 BOCES. We are looking forward to the tykes visiting and getting comfortable in their new surroundings," DiFonzo said, adding he believes this collaboration will be an example of how services can be shared productively.