Some walked away happy, others disappointed after names were drawn in Columbia County's first pre-Kindergarten registration lottery Thursday.
The lottery at Greenbrier Elementary School was the kick-off to fill the 320 pre-Kindergarten openings in the Columbia County school system. Registration will continue this week through Friday.
The first name to be called in Thursday's drawing was Christopher Peavler.
"I was very glad, very relieved," said his mother Barbara. "Some of my friends teach here and I have a friend who has a child in pre-K and really enjoys it. I know my child will do well here."
But some weren't so lucky.
Carlette Robinson's son Dalton was ninth on the waiting list. Her hope was to send him to Greenbrier Elementary's pre-K so he could become acclimated to a school environment and be better prepared for kindergarten, she said.
"I prayed about it: Whatever the Lord is willing to happen," she said. "But he is already registered at Wesley Methodist's preschool, so I know he'll be fine."
The purpose of the pre-Kindergarten program is to teach language, math and science concepts to children, provide health services so children will be ready to enter kindergarten and give parents the assistance they need to transition their children into kindergarten, said Phyllis Means, Columbia County's director of elementary program, pre-K through 5th grade.
"We teach them to love school so that they will want to be here," said Renee Perry, who teaches the only pre-K class at Greenbrier. "We teach them to learn by having fun."
Vanessa Johnson's son Christian made the cut.
"I think it's a great early learning experience," she said. "My little boy is really excited about going to school. This will be a great start and a great beginning for him."
Twelve of the county's 14 elementary schools participate in the preschool program - Blue Ridge and Stevens Creek are the only ones that don't. There are also private day-care centers that offer the lottery-funded program. To be eligible for pre-K registration, children must be four years old on or before Sept. 1, 2002.
Because there are a limited number of openings in the public school system's pre-K program, a lottery is held to determine who gets in, Means said. A waiting list is also maintained.
"People ask the question why can't we add another class," Means said. "But the number of pre-K openings is determined by both public and private schools and we have enough classes when you combine the two. But we are all participating in the same Georgia pre-K program."
There were three day care centers at the pre-K registration to talk to parents who didn't get selected for Greenbrier's program.
But many on the waiting list will ultimately get in, Means assured parents.
"If you are the first few people on the waiting list, stay and register," she said. "It's always amazing how people change their minds. We may be calling some of you as early as next week."
Parents in the Stevens Creek district may attend registration at Riverside Elementary and parents in the Blue Ridge district may attend registration at Martinez Elementary. Blue Ridge and Stevens Creek pupils will be offered placement only after Riverside and Martinez Elementary children have been served.
To register to attend pre-K at a particular school, the child must reside in that school district. Parents will be required to provide a birth certificate and proof of residency, such as a current utility bill showing their address.
Registration begins promptly at the designated time and the doors are closed once registration begins, so parents are encouraged to come early. Those arriving late may place their names on the waiting list.
Pre-K registration will continue this week with the schedule for registration as follows:
South Columbia: Monday, April 1, cafeteria, 2 p.m.
Grovetown: Tuesday, April 2, cafeteria, 9 a.m.
Riverside: Tuesday, April 2, cafeteria, 1:45 p.m.
North Columbia, Wednesday, April 3, cafeteria, 9 a.m.
North Harlem, Wednesday, April 3, cafeteria, 1:45 p.m.
Bel Air, Thursday, April 4, cafeteria, 9 a.m.
Martinez, Thursday, April 4, cafeteria, 2 p.m.
Brookwood, Friday, April 5, cafeteria, 9 a.m.
Evans, Friday, April 5, cafeteria, 1:45 p.m.
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