Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Seven Oaks kindergarteners 'practice' for first day at camp

WESLEY CHAPEL — Five-year-old Ashley Kelley loves kindergarten, and it hasn't even started yet.

"It's great," Ashley said Wednesday while coloring, cutting and pasting triangles as part of an art project. "You get to learn all about everything, and they teach you about everything that you don't know. And that's how I learn."

How does she know all this?

Ashley and about 40 future classmates are spending mornings this week attending kindergarten camp at Seven Oaks Elementary. The program, which costs $80 for the week, helps the youngest children get acclimated to school routines, rules and activities before all the big kids show up.

Assistant principal Shirley Ray called the program, now in its second year at Seven Oaks, a "nice preview."

Ashley put it this way: "My mommy drops me off here because I'm practicing how to learn until I go to my school."

The camp offers parents some lessons, too.

A group spent two hours with the school's reading specialist Tuesday reviewing expectations and learning how to reinforce school lessons with their children at home. They also are getting accustomed to the idea of sending their kids to elementary school.

"A lot of people are scared to leave their babies," Ray said.

Not that most of the children share the apprehension.

"I'm not sad," announced Caden Calta, 5, who said he was excited about kindergarten. "I've been here, like, three days."

"I like it, but I was expecting a little bit bigger classroom," said Nicholas Maldonado, also 5.

The four teachers working at the kindergarten camp constantly reinforced the rules throughout the morning sessions, reminding their students to raise their hand before speaking, to walk not run, to keep their hands to themselves.

"This is really good for them," teacher Michelle Bergmann said of the program, noting that most of the children quickly became accustomed to the school schedule. "I wish all of the kids who are coming to kindergarten could do it."

In addition to getting "the hang of things," as teacher Ginny Lanpher described it, the children also got the chance to practice skills they'll need in school. They worked on letter sounds, writing numbers and counting, and listening to and explaining stories.

Wednesday's theme was the three little kittens who lost their mittens.

The teachers tried to mix sitting and moving activities to keep the kids interested and involved without losing their attention.

"It definitely gets us in the mind frame for the first day of school," teacher Marcie McAmmond said.

The idea of kindergarten camp started at Sand Pine Elementary School four years ago. Seven Oaks and Double Branch elementary schools started their own versions last year.

The concept proved so popular that this year, the Pasco Education Foundation gave grants to launch kindergarten camp at several other schools across the county.

To hear the kids talk, it quickly becomes clear that the camp offers a confidence boost in the weeks leading to that eventful first day of school (Aug. 18, in case you're wondering).

"We are big kids," said Emma Troy, who turns 5 next week. "Today I'm a big kid. Just look at me."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

Seven Oaks kindergarteners 'practice' for first day at camp 07/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 3:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon: What my time in Tampa Bay meant — and still means — to me

    The Heater

    Editor's note: The Rays next week in Chicago will meet up for the first time with former manager Joe Maddon, who is in his third year leading the Cubs after nine with the Rays. In advance of the Tuesday-Wednesday series, we asked Maddon to share his thoughts in a column on what his time in Tampa Bay meant to …

    Joe Maddon waits to greet B.J. Upton after Upton's home run in Game 2 of the ALCS in 2008 at Tropicana Field. [Times files (2008)]
  2. First WannaCry, now cyberattack Petya spreads from Russia to Britain


    Computer systems from Russia to Britain were victims of an international cyberattack Tuesday in a hack that bore similarities to a recent one that crippled tens of thousands of machines worldwide.

    A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Tuesday.  A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe.
[Oleg Reshetnyak via AP]
  3. Pinellas sheriff's corporal had racist, sexist, pornographic content on his cell phone

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County sheriff's corporal resigned recently after an investigation into an alleged extramarital affair revealed a trove of racist, sexist and pornographic images on his personal cell phone.

    Shawn Pappas, 46, resigned as a training division corporal from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office after an investigation revealed a trove of offensive images and videos on his phone. This photo was taken as a screenshot from one of the videos released by the Sheriff's Office that Pappas filmed while on duty. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine reflects on the news from the Congressional Budget Office analysis that could imperil GOP leaders' hopes of pushing their health care the plan through the chamber this week, Tuesday, on Capitol Hill in Washington. [AP photo]
  5. Review: Dan Auerbach, Benjamin Booker plumb the past for inspiration on new albums

    Music & Concerts

    It didn't take Benjamin Booker long to get lumped in with the greats. The Tampa-raised singer-songwriter's 2014 self-titled blues-punk debut brought widespread acclaim, not to mention an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, a tour with Jack White and sessions with Mavis Staples.

    The cover of Benjamin Booker's new album "Witness." Credit: ATO Records