Kindergarten becomes nostalgic for Claremont family

The first day of kindergarten can be a memory-stirring experience. Parents are brought back to their earliest school days as they strive to give their child a good start in the classroom.

For the family of 5-year-old Sophia Sink, who had her first day of school on Monday, this feeling of déjà vu was even more acute.

Sophia is now a student at Condit Elementary in Claremont, the same school where her mother Kim and grandmother Katie Thompson attended elementary school. What’s more, Ms. Thompson teaches kindergarten right next door to Sophia’s new home room, in the same room where her daughter’s first class was stationed.

“It’s amazing!” Ms. Thompson exclaimed. “It seems like yesterday I was bringing Kim to kindergarten here—and it seems like a little longer when I went to school here. Now, she’ll be bringing her little girl. Where does the time fly?”

Ms. Sink—who took the day off from her job as a kindergarten teacher in Diamond Bar to walk Sophia to school on her first day—felt the strongest sense of nostalgia during a meet-and-greet held after Sophia and her peers were safely ensconced in their classrooms.

“We sat in the multi-purpose room and the smell of the room took me back to all of the things we did there,” Ms. Sink said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

It’s no coincidence that these 3 generations of Claremont women are all Condit Condors. For this family, it’s the neighborhood school. When Ms. Thompson was 9, her family moved to Claremont, buying a house on Reed Drive, an area that feeds into Condit. When she grew up, she raised her 2 daughters, Ms. Sink and her sister Julie, on Simmons Court, also Condit territory. Now, Ms. Sink lives in a house on Wellesley Drive, a short walk from Condit, along with her husband James, Sophia and her younger brother Dominic, 3.

Mr. Sink is likewise a product of Claremont schools, although he went to Sycamore. Both he and his wife went to El Roble Intermediate and graduated from Claremont High School. As a result, Ms. Sink saw several of her old schoolmates dropping their kids off on Monday, which made her feel like she was amid “a family reunited.” 

“Everyone at Condit always makes you feel welcome. If you’re a new family, they want to know who you are,” Ms. Sink said.

Ms. Thompson concurs that the family atmosphere is one of the school’s strongest points.

“It’s such a family,” she said. “Many of our teachers, at least half, have been parents there. I have met a lot of parents in my classroom who have become good friends. And [principal] Christine Malally is absolutely amazing. She does a lot to keep everyone’s spirits up.”

Sophia, a diminutive brunette, was in good spirits on Wednesday as she arrived at school sporting blue Converse tennis shoes, a tomboyish Spiderman backpack and a girlish bow in her hair. She has a special penchant for superheroes, especially Captain America, because of the amazing feats they can perform. The way she took her first day of kindergarten in stride is a feat in itself. 

“My first day was good,” she said later that evening. “My teacher was nice and I liked some of the other kids.”

Perhaps the ease of Sophia’s first day can be attributed to familiarity. For the past few years, whenever the Sinks have walked or biked past Condit, they have taken pains to point out the campus, known as “Gamma’s school.” Sophia was even on campus earlier in the week, helping her Gamma Thompson get her classroom ready.

When you ask a kid what they did in school, it can be difficult to get specifics. Ms. Sink makes a habit of debriefing Sophia, however, pushing for details of her daily life. So she was able to give a full account of her first-day activities.

They talked about the color red, looking around the room for red-colored things, and used a red crayon to draw a red flag, red pants, Clifford the dog and red cars and trucks on a piece of paper shaped like a crayon.

Condit is known for its high scores and high-achieving students, but Ms. Sink’s biggest aim is a simple one.

“I made so many good friends while I was at Condit,” she said. “I hope Sophia can make great friends there, too.”

—Sarah Torribio


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