School bells ring! Schools open for year

Photo by Eleanor Guerrero Natasha Dixon with her sons, left to right, Jaxon and Dakota, ready for first day at Red Lodge Elementary and Mountain View Schools.

Schools opened in Red Lodge on Wednesday, Aug. 28, and were opening all over Carbon County this week. One parent expressed thoughts many parents may be feeling as their children leave the house to start a new school year. “My feelings are mixed,” said Red Lodge mother of two boys, Natasha Dixon. “I am really happy not to pay for day care but sad at the same time that it’s my last child, Jaxon. My baby is a big boy and growing up.” She said he talks about it every day. “He’s excited about his new shoes!” Her sons are Dakota, 10 and a half, and Jaxon, 5.

“Dakota is excited that he will be playing football. He is also excited about his new fifth grade teacher. Jaxon is really excited about Kindergarten. He will be able to use the playground and play with the same toys his brother played with such as basketball.” The day was the culmination of much effort on the part of parents gathering school supplies, new clothes for growing children and snacks and lunch supplies. It could be especially challenging for single mothers. Dixon said it was more difficult to outfit her children this year. Her children were in Great Falls all summer with their father and had just returned. “Even if I used their sizes when they left, they would have grown out of them by now.”

As it turned out, she had to outfit them both in one day. She went to Billings on the previous Saturday before school to do a clothes run. Then, she had to go back to Billings the following Sunday to do a food and supplies run to make sure they had everything they needed for the new year. Supplies can be big ticket items these days for parents.

Due to budget cuts, many schools routinely require parents to supply items from backpacks to calculators. Although August came quickly, most children were smiling as they filed off the buses or met up with old friends. Many were eager for the fresh start. “Jaxon has been counting down the days and checking his backpack every day to make sure he’s ready,” said Dixon with a smile. As for parents having time off, she assured me that isn’t the case. “I don’t ever have any time off. I keep myself very busy with the kids, keeping them more involved with school.” She doesn’t want them bored, or getting stiff sitting at home. “It’s a small town. I want them active and involved. I want them to like school.”