Ashland's public schools are helping kindergarten-age children and their parents prepare for this fall's school year with open houses and pre-registration at Bellview, Walker, and Helman elementary schools. The kindergarten open house or "round-up" will be held Wednesday April 30, from 2:30 to 4 p.m., at all three schools. Kindergarten teachers and the principal will be available to discuss the programs and answer questions. Parents should bring copies of their child's immunization record, birth certificate, and social security number.

Joyce Schlecht, a kindergarten teacher at Bellview elementary school, says the open house is a good time for parents to see their child's school environment, meet the teachers, and ask questions. "All the kindergartens are really great in Ashland, but everyone has questions. Parents shouldn't be afraid to voice any concerns," Schlecht said.

Bellview families may be particularly concerned this year due to construction of the new Bellview school building. The project will cause kindergarten and first grade classes to be held in the Rivergate church on Garfield and Iowa until the new building is complete. "Each year, people have different concerns. I'm happy to talk to families about the new space," says Schlecht. Bellview also plans to host an open house later this year at the Rivergate facility, so that families of kindergartners and first graders can get more familiar with it.

"I've always seen positive responses to the round-up," said Schlecht, who has been teaching in Ashland for five years. Schlecht adds that the round-up is also a chance for parents, teachers, and children to get to know one another. "Kindergarten is a child's transition into the public school system. We can reassure parents that we will nurture their children and introduce them to the world of education in a fun way."

One mother, who lives in the Helman School neighborhood, said she is looking forward to the open house. "I've heard wonderful things about Helman's kindergarten. For me, I really want to find a place that is a good fit for my son," she said.

For Matthew Fujikawa, a kindergarten teacher at Bellview, Wednesday's round-up will be the first he has participated in. "It's a good start for the families, and it will be fun to see the incoming students and get a picture of the coming school year."