Fox Mill students Noah Kreider and Joey Barbaris are one week into their first grade experience at the Viking Drive elementary school.
Kreider moved with his family from Rockville, Md., in June. One of the attractions to Fox Mill for Noah and his parents, Brett and Beth, was the Japanese immersion program the school offers to all incoming first graders. In the program, students take three immersion classes: math, social science and language. Noah has a pen pal outside of Tokyo and he loves to learn new words in Japanese. "Pretty soon, me and my friends will be able to talk and no one will know what we are saying," Noah said. "I can't wait."
Besides learning Japanese, Noah, says he is looking forward to art and math class. "I really like drawing pictures of animals," said the energetic 6-year-old.
Moving to a new school and a new town is never easy, but Noah said he was only "a little nervous" about making new friends. To help ease the transition, Noah, a Maryland Terrapins basketball fan, participated in basketball and soccer camps over the summer. When Noah is not practicing his art or addition tables, he can likely be found playing with his adopted baby sister, Elena. "He always wanted to be a big brother," Noah's mom, Beth, said. "Now he is and he is so loving. He loves giving her big hugs, sometimes a little too big."
When asked how she felt about seeing her youngest child getting ready to go to first grade, Robyn Barbaris said simply, "Woo-hoo." Joey, 6, began first grade at Fox Mill last week and for the first time since her two sons were born, Robyn was set to have the house to herself for the entire school day.
A stay-at-home mom and former Army brat, Robyn was an only child. She has been married to husband Ron for 13 years and has two boys, Joey and third-grader Dominick. Now she is the only woman in the Barbaris home, "It’s rough," she said, laughing.
Robyn seems less enthusiastic about Joey's latest hobby, the guitar. "It's not exactly a quiet hobby, but if he likes it, then I am happy," she said.
While excited about first grade, especially P.E. class, Joey said he will miss fingerpainting in kindergarten. "I love fingerpainting," he said.
Joey is the "social one," his mom said. "His brother is more studious." A budding athlete and a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, Joey won several medals for free-style swimming this past summer. He also loves to play soccer, hockey and roller-blading. He had no desire to participate in the immersion program, "because then I wouldn't be able to talk to my mom about my homework," he said matter-of-factly.
And while the summer wound to a close, Joey said "he was ready for school to start." He was especially excited about the cafeteria. The most exciting thing about first grade? "They have Chick-fil-A there," he said, smiling broadly. "I love Chick-fil-A on a bun."