Teachers stood next to nine long tables set up in the middle of the Macon Coliseum Monday morning and waited for the arrival of Macon Charter Academy’s first students.
The tables, each one labeled by class — kindergarten through eighth grade — are where students are beginning their MCA instruction.
“We’re just excited that the babies are here so we can get to work,” school leader Ron Boykins said. “What we’re going to be doing today, for the next four days, is assessing, introducing them to the instructional program and all the different areas.”
Shawn Kellum, who moved from Perry so his child could be part of MCA, said he was excited about the school — and Boykins’ leading the way.
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“There is something wonderful going on here,” he said. “I just wish we had something like this when I was younger.”
Neither Kellum nor his wife expressed concerns about starting school in the vast, open spaces of the Coliseum.
“To me, school is like church,” he said, “Where two or more are gathered, you can have school.”
His wife, Krisondra, added that as long as you have students willing to learn and teachers willing to teach, you can have school anywhere — a tent or a shack. She added that she’d rather wait for a new school building nearing completion to be finished and safe before students move in.
“I don’t want the building crashing in on them,” she said.
Not all parents, though, agreed that the Coliseum — a venue that students may be in for at least two weeks — was the best choice for school activities.
“I thought they should’ve waited until the new school is open,” said one parent who declined to give his name. “Most parents didn’t want to (wait), that’s why they’re (at the Coliseum). Majority rules. The majority of parents probably complained about not starting on time. And then you’ve got to look at their side. Maybe they don’t have day care. Now their school system has them paying for two or three more weeks extra day care. There’s always both sides of the coin you got to look at.”
When it came time to pick up students in the afternoon, some parents — who still had work obligations to get to — expressed frustration at having to get out of their car and stand in line.
Brittany Booker, who has children in kindergarten and fifth grade, said she did not know if MCA was going to be a great school or not.
But many teachers and students expressed good feelings about the start.
“(The first day) went well,” Rhonday Singletray, a fourth-grade teacher, said. “Better than expected.”
She said once the kids learn the routine, they’ll fall in place.
First-grader Aaliyah Curry’s jubilation could be seen as she jumped up and down, exclaiming “yes, yes, yes,” when her parents asked if she had a good first day.
She said that she “played games” like patty-cake and “saw a volcano.”
While MCA co-founder Monya Rutland previously told The Telegraph they were expecting more than 800 students on the first day, the nine tables were set up with about 50 chairs each — close to 450 seats.
Rutland said she did not have an exact student count by the end of the school day.
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382 or find him on Twitter @davidcschick.