Roanoke Avenue Elementary School principal Tom Payton greets a kindergartener on the first day of school last year. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Wide-eyed with anticipation, Roanoke Avenue Elementary School students stepped off their buses to begin a new school year. Principal Tom Payton and several classroom teachers formed a welcoming committee outside the brick schoolhouse, paying particular attention to the kindergarteners —members of the Class of 2030 — beginning their academic careers today at Roanoke. 

Kindergarteners and their parents were invited to the annual “Boo-Hoo Breakfast” at Roanoke — a tradition Payton started when he first became principal of Phillips Avenue Elementary School in 2005. (Payton moved to Roanoke in 2010.)

“This is more for the parents than the children,” Payton said.  “I know how tough today can be on parents of kindergarteners — especially parents sending a child to school for the first time,” he said.

The Roanoke Avenue PTO provided refreshments — and personal-size packets of tissues. It may have been an emotional morning, but there were no tears in the school cafeteria when Payton arrived to give parents a pep talk. The kindergartners had already been ushered off to their classrooms by then. Buses were very late arriving this morning, a typical occurrence on the first day of the school year, apparently exacerbated by road work around town. Paving at the Riverside circle had traffic backed up in the downtown area, Payton said. 

First-time kindergarten parents Juan and Bridget Micieli-Martinez of Riverhead said their morning got off to an eventful start with their son Benicio being stung by a yellow jacket at the bus stop. 

“We can’t believe how fast this day came,” Bridget Micieli-Martinez said.

The school’s enrollment is about the same as it was last year, 378 students as of this morning, Payton said. 

Payton invited parents to attend the Roanoke PTO meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. and to get involved in the organization.

“There are many volunteer opportunities,” Payton said. One of them is coming right up on Saturday morning, when the PTO is holding a car wash in the school parking lot from 11 to 3. (The cost is $5 per car).

Editor’s note: A previously published version of this article incorrectly identified the incoming kindergarten class as the Class of 2031.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti


This story is free to read thanks in part to the generous support of readers like you. Keep local news free. Become a member today.

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.