The staff in the halls of Sandy Hook School are quick to greet the 4- and 5-year-old students who came Wednesday to register for kindergarten next school year.
"Are you coming to Kindergarten next year?" volunteer Jennifer Straiton asks Alexa Norton.
The 4-year-old's mother says, as she is filling out the forms, "I'm requesting afternoon kindergarten, but I've heard that this year we might not get the choice, because they might do the buses by neighborhood."
Straiton replies, "They are still allowing people to give a preference, but we aren't sure what will happen."
In addition to wanting to find out when they will get the teacher assignment, parents ask about the morning versus afternoon kindergarten schedule, Straiton says.
"Late July or early August is a long time to wait to find out if they are assigned to the morning or afternoon schedule," she says.
After filling out the forms and getting a nametag, a volunteer walks the student and parent down the hall to meet with the school nurse, Sally Cox, who verifies the child's immunization records and gives the child a vision test.
"Some kids are shy and don't want to take the vision test," Cox says, "so we just wait for the fall or ask them to get it with their physical."
Cox says she likes the opportunity to meet with the parents so that she can discuss any health issues that the child might have.
"We are expecting 93 or 94 new students," Cox says. "It's hard to know for sure because some parents haven't decided if they are going to register students with late birthdays or wait a year."
Other parents weigh the options of a full-day kindergarten alternative, such as those offered by St. Rose or Fraser-Woods.
Coming out of the front office, longtime kindergarten teacher Janet Vollmer stops by the registration table to chat.
"How's it going today?" she asks Straiton and fellow PTA volunteer Sarah Beier, who are working the registration table. "Are you drumming up some business?"
"They all want you!" Straiton answers Vollmer, who has been a popular kindergarten teacher at Sandy Hook for the last 15 years.
As part of the registration process, parents meet with a kindergarten teacher, though not necessarily the one the student will get next year. The meeting is important and helpful, Vollmer says.
"We do some letters with them, and the parents can share any issues the child may have, like speech or fine motor skills," she says. "If there is a concern, we can advise the parents to spend some time this summer working with them."
Children get to select a workbook when they leave, courtesy of the PTA.
Grace Ruggiero, 5, is an only child, so this is a new experience for the whole family, her mother Heidi Werner says.
"I lived in Newtown from high school on, so I don't know much about the elementary schools," she says. "I've heard good things about this school."
Bennett Samberg, 4, is a little nervous, but perks up when his mom asks about the backpacks he might use for school next year.
"I have an orange one, and one with monkeys, and one with dinosaurs," Bennett says.
His mother, Becky Samberg, says the family is excited about his enrollment in kindergarten.
"He's ready," she says. "He likes school, and he's looking forward to riding the bus with his big brother."
The wide smiles of the other staff members and volunteers show agreement with Sarah Beier's assessment of the morning: "The kids are very cute."
Kindergarten registration continues through Thursday at Sandy Hook School.
Middle Gate and Head O' Meadow schools are finished with their registrations while Hawley School will hold Kindergarten registration on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.