Back to School – Students of all levels ready for return to school

Elementary, middle school and high school students talk about the morning rush to get ready for class

Jesse Charmley and dad Darrin ride to Ecole Doncaster from their home in the Mount Tolmie neighbourhood.

Jesse Charmley and dad Darrin ride to Ecole Doncaster from their home in the Mount Tolmie neighbourhood.

Elementary school

Commuting to school is a bike-only ritual in the Charmley family.

In preschool, Jesse rode by trailer.

By kindergarten, he had graduated to trail-a-bike. And now for Grade 1, the six-year-old will travel on his own power, riding his (still fairly new) red mountain bike.

“In theory our daily prep starts the night before with lunches but usually we end up putting lunches together in the morning,” says dad Darrin Charley.

The buzzer for Ecole Doncaster rings at 8:42 a.m.

“If we’re walking to school, we leave at 8:15, by bike, around 8:30 [a.m.], never by car,” Charmley added.

Jesse’s isn’t the only morning commuter, as four-year-old Coen is towed to preschool twice a week in Fernwood, either by Darrin, or mom Erin, on their way to work downtown.



Middle School

Compared to elementary school, Carolyn Phillips says her 10-year-old daughter Allie requires little supervision when preparing for class in the morning.

“She can get herself ready, she knows the time schedule, she can help her sister find things that she needs,” said Phillips. “Allie usually is up pretty early, even before me.”

While she tries to prepare lunches the night before, Phillips said some days she’s making breakfast and lunch at the same time.

The hardest part, though, is usually the last 10 minutes, when Allie and her younger sister Katie are double- and triple-checking that they have everything for the day.

“We have to make sure we have everything we need and whatever else,” said Allie, who’s heading into Grade 5 next month.

“Some days it’s a rush, some days it’s not a rush,” said Phillips.

“It just depends on whether everyone’s co-operating or procrastinating. It’s hard to predict how it’s going to be every morning – I think most parents understand that.”

High school

Of course, everything changes in the teenage years.

Sixteen-year-old Willa Rolfe prepares her own food for the day. And no, she doesn’t do it the night before.

“Between homework and tae kwon do, I don’t usually make a lunch the night before,” she says.

And why would she? Rather, the typical teen is content to put a lunch together in a rush before heading out the door to Claremont secondary, where she’s entering Grade 11.

Twice a week school starts at 7:30 a.m. But the rest of the week, Rolfe, and the rest of the Claremont student body, benefits from the school’s late start time of 9 a.m.

“I think it has to do with the [rural] school bus routes,” says mother Margaret, who’s already guided Willa’s two elder siblings through graduation at Claremont.

They all started at Prospect Lake elementary, which, incidentally, has a much earlier start time.

For Willa, it means a later finish, as her days at Claremont go well beyond the 3 p.m. bell. She’s in musical theatre and is starting stagecraft this year, both of which have after-school components.


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