Saturday, August 2, 2003

Parents, kids all at same school

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] One student gets off a school bus at Reiley Elementary School in Campbell County as other students arrive with their parents on the first day back to class on Friday.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
Public school started in Campbell County on Friday, and for one student, this year brings a special challenge.

Sarah Franzen, 10, has to resist hugging her mom in class at Reiley Elementary. She must remember to call her art teacher "Mr. Franzen" instead of "Dad." And when she sees her three siblings in the hallway, she won't be able to break out of line to greet them.

Sarah's among the 4,700 Campbell County students who started a new school year Friday under the district's year-round calendar and, for the first time, all six Franzens will be in school together all day long.

Dan Franzen teaches art at Reiley. Laurie Franzen teaches fifth grade, and Sarah is in her class this year. Aubrey is in third grade, Jacob in first and Megan just started kindergarten.

On Friday, the entire family helped the youngest member settle in. Then Jacob and Aubrey scattered. Dad - er, Mr. Franzen - stood in the hallway greeting students. Sarah and her mom headed for the same classroom, where they'll be navigating new territory this year.

Sarah is confident her mom won't nag her to stand up straight in front of the other kids. And they've agreed not to hug each other as they do at home.

"You can't just lean all over her," Sarah says. "Then the other kids might want to do it or something."

The Franzens jumped at the chance to get a close-up view of their children's days. Laurie had a higher-paying job at Northern Kentucky University, but she gave it up last year to work at Reiley.

The long hours at NKU made her feel disconnected from her family, she says. Now she can pop in to the kids' classrooms when a special activity is going on. She and Mr. Franzen, who work down the hall from each other, can lean out their doors at the end of the day to coordinate taxi duties for the night.

"It's very, very special," Mr. Franzen says. When he sees his kids for art class, "They always come in with a big smile on their faces. It's hard for me to keep from smiling, myself."

But he works hard not to play favorites. Once, Sarah even wrote an essay about her dad being tougher on her than other students.

"I was out on the playground, and I fell, and he wouldn't give me a Band-Aid, because he said I was OK," Sarah recalled. "But he would give other kids Band-Aids."

Oops. Mrs. Franzen liked the story. Sarah's dad wondered if maybe she could pick something else to put in her official writing portfolio.

Sarah agreed.


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