VALDOSTA -- Jakob Hodges, 5, visited his kindergarten classroom at Moulton-Branch Elementary School during open house Thursday afternoon. He immediately located his assigned spot at one of the child-sized tables.

"I've never been to this school before," he said. "I like all the globes. I like everything."

When asked if he was excited about the fast-approaching first day of school, Hodges shook his head from side to side and said "no."

"I'm nervous about school," he added with closed eyes.

Deshon Allen, 5, was so excited about becoming a kindergartner he used the opportunity to investigate every nook and cranny of the circus-themed classroom. He said the lessons he'll learn in kindergarten are sure to make him smart. He promised to work hard and make good grades.

"Deshon's ready for school," said his mother, Belinda James.

Moulton-Branch was among the Lowndes County schools to open doors Thursday so students could meet their teachers and gain necessary information before starting classes Monday.

Yvonne Killgo, a 31-year veteran teacher retiring at the end of this year, said she is eager for the first day of the 2004-2005 school year to arrive. She said her focus will be on making sure each student has a happy day. In fact, she said the word "happy" will be the first word the students learn.

"We want to create a happy atmosphere for everyone from the very beginning," she added.

Killgo said the first few days kindergarten students will learn their way to the classroom, their way around the school, school and classroom rules, the importance of safety and good social skills, and how to recognize their name. Afterwards, they'll get down to business with the letter "c" and shapes and patterns.

Other Lowndes County schools hosting Open House activities for families Thursday were Clyattville Elementary School, Dewar Elementary School, Hahira Elementary School, Hahira Middle School, Lake Park Elementary School, Lowndes Middle School, Parker Mathis Elementary School and Pine Grove Elementary School.

The first day of school for all students in the Lowndes County School System is Monday.

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, call (229) 244-3400, ext. 255.

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