The Inside Edge: The first day of school

Skaters recall their earliest kindergarten memories as semester begins

Kindergartners Ross Miner (left) and Jeremy Abbott before becoming great skaters.
Kindergartners Ross Miner (left) and Jeremy Abbott before becoming great skaters. (courtesy of Ray Miner/Gwen Abbott)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(09/12/2012) - The back-to-school sales are winding down, so the kids must be back in school. We asked as many skaters as we could reach what they remembered from their first day of school.

Meryl Davis: I remember the smells of my first day of school very vividly. I went to preschool at my family's church. When I go back, even now, I am reminded of that first day of school. If my nose and memory serve me correctly, it was a combination of old wood and graham crackers -- a very comforting combination, if I do say so myself.

Charlie White: I rode the bus for the first time on my first day of school. So, at the end of the day when I was riding the bus back home, I was so tired from the full day of school that I fell asleep at the back of the bus and didn't wake up until the bus had pulled into the school bus parking lot for the night; it was a horrible experience.

Caroline Zhang: I remember being very excited on my first day of school and thinking everything was so cool, from the blackboard, the books, the classroom pets, art supplies and cubby holes for your backpack.

Ashley Wagner: I was living in Alaska at the time and I was terrified to leave my mom. I was so scared, and I was scared of the fifth graders. They looked so much older! I was a little momma's girl at that point.

Jeremy Abbott: I don't remember my first day of school. I remember, since elementary school, I always had a feeling of excitement and fear. I never liked school and I was a social outcast, so I dreaded being with my peers. You'd think I would have found any excuse not to show up, but there was always something inexplicable I enjoyed about actually being in school.

John Coughlin: I remember trying to convince my mom that I didn't need to go to school the whole way there (I thought I presented a strong case). My first day of kindergarten, I remember most funny little things about the first friends I latched onto. One kid had neon shoes, another was named Carter but I heard him say "Quarter", so I walked around all day wondering why his parents named him after a coin.

My mom also put what became known as her famous "love note" in my lunch box. My teacher read it out loud and the other kids were jealous they didn't have one of their own. I remember thinking my parents were the coolest.

Sarah Hughes: I loved the feeling of getting everything together and organizing myself for school and skating, all ready for a fresh start!

Andrew Speroff: On the first day of kindergarten, my parents sent me to school with a brand new pair of penny loafers, pennies in them and all. I loved these new shoes. The fact that you could stick money in the front fascinated me.

At naptime that day, I took the shoes off. When I woke, they were gone. The class bully must have had something against me, or penny loafers. He had taken them from under my cot while I slept -- probably dreaming up the next big thing, like quarter loafers -- and tried to flush them down the toilet in the bathroom. Not only was I devastated about my new kicks being ruined, but my parents had to come pick me up and walk me back home down the street ... barefoot. Good first day!

Piper Gilles: I remember my mom taking pictures of my sister [Alexe] and I in our matching Keroppi backpacks. I dont know if people remember Keroppi, but it was a cute little green frog that was Hello Kitty's best friend.

Jason Brown: I remember getting super excited to go to school with my older sister and finally getting to ride the big yellow school bus!

Emily Hughes: On the first day of school, I remember being excited about the classes I was going to take. In college, the first week of each semester was called "shopping week," where we could go to as many classes as we wanted and at the end of the week pick the classes we would take for the semester. I always went to way too many classes and had a hard time only choosing a few, but it was something I looked forward to each semester.

Alex Johnson: I remember being so excited that my teacher had a pet rabbit for our class and then being informed that we could bring in our own pets for show and tell. Needless to say, I don't think my cat was very excited to be mauled by 20-some 4-year-olds.

Drew Gonzales: I can't really remember exactly what happened my first day of school, but my education started out at a Montessori school in Poway, Calif. I clearly remember my mom waking me up a little earlier than usual, making me breakfast and trying to get me excited for my first day of school. This was working until I actually got there. It was not a fun experience...

I am kind of a momma's boy and I vividly remember bursting into tears, crying pretty much the entire first day because I did not want to leave my parents. They were finally able to pry me off my mom's leg so they could show me my seat at the table -- where my cubby was for my backpack -- and get me acclimated in the classroom. My mom stayed a few minutes looking through the small window on the door, or a window next to the door, along with some other parents watching me and a few others. I stood in front of the window looking back, still sobbing and wanting to go home. I hated it.

This lasted about two weeks until I finally stopped crying, made some friends and realized that other people's toys were way more fun than my own. My two weeks were rather traumatic, but I survived.

Ross Miner: I have oddly specific, but not broad memories of my first day of kindergarten. For some reason, I remember those hard cardboard blocks in primary colors with the brick pattern on them, about the size of tissue boxes, and my friend Nick Armstrong asking me to help him build a fort.

Rockne Brubaker: I don't remember a whole lot from my first day except that I was really excited. I felt like such a "big kid," and I was ready to do everything on my own. I was also pretty exited about having a new backpack and school outfit. I've watched some videos that my mom took from that day. I seemed excited and apparently was pretty interested in annoying my older sister.

Valentina Marchei: I do not remember much about the very first day, but I do remember that I was a little girl who always wanted to be perfect. If teachers asked me questions about something that I didn't know, I would just start to cry. Also, growing up, it would take me a week to decide what to wear the first day.

Parker Pennington: I remember my first day of school in the fourth grade, right after I had moved to Ohio to train with Carol Heiss-Jenkins. My teacher's name was Mrs. Lutz and I thought, "How perfect!" that this was meant to be. It just so happened to be my favorite jump, and it made for a good landing in Ohio.

(By the way, Pennington's latest Skate Dance Dream show will be this Saturday, Sept. 15, in Gates Mills, Ohio. Richard Dornbush and Sean Rabbitt star).

Courtney Hicks: What I remember is being really excited, and I couldn't wait to start school. I had to wait outside of class for the bell to ring, and I remember wanting the bell to just hurry up and ring already! [I thought] I want to go now!

Tim Koleto: I remember I wore my Spiderman backpack and light-up Sketchers. I went to a charter school with uniforms, so I made sure to wear my red shirt and blue shorts to match my backpack and to complete my super-secret Peter Parker alter ego. I was scared of everyone except my teacher (who I, of course, had an immediate crush on), and refused to participate in Red Rover festivities on the playground. I had an aversion to team sports from the beginning. I think it had something to do with people sprinting at me, while the kid next to me had a vise-grip on my arm.

Stephen Carriere: I actually had a pretty interesting first day of school when I was in first grade. The teacher assembled a number of desks into a bunch of pentagon blocks, and I was sitting directly across from this girl who did not look like she was feeling that well. I was in class when the girl sitting across from me threw up all over her desk and a little on mine. The girl was obviously rushed home, but the best part was the teacher did not immediately clean up the mess but put this saw dusty mix on top of the mess, and I literally just sat there for a solid amount of the class. It was one of those photographic moments that you do not really forget.

See their kindergarten photos here.

We'll be back in a couple of weeks with all the backstage dish from An Evening with Champions!

Sarah and Drew
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