PLEASE clean up your workspace, go get your snack, and then come and sit down in the listening position -- "criss-cross, apple sauce (arms and legs crossed)."
We have some special visitors in the Winnipeg Free Press today.
Welcome the Class of 2005.
The graduates you're about to meet have graciously agreed to share insights and wisdom from their educational careers.
That's going to take approximately 12 years, so please make sure to visit the washroom.
What follows is Page One in the yearbook of a single classroom of students at Windsor School -- and the first in an ongoing series of articles that we offer as your passport to a unique journey through the hallowed halls of learning.
Our journey begins in Ms Gietz's kindergarten classroom.
It will conclude on the stage of a high school gymnasium, when the Class of 2005 reaches the milestone of maturity that will launch them out into the world as the official Class of 2017.
Along the way, we'll drop in on our subjects -- currently ages five to 6 1/2 -- to see how their view of life changes as pigtails, toothless grins and licence to colour outside the lines give way to timetables, tests and gender dynamics.
Will Paige still want to be a "dog doctor" at the end of Grade 1?
Will Devon still hate books?
Did Gabriel really quit school in Grade 4 to avoid the needles?
Will Quinn still think the mayor is the most important person in Winnipeg when he's in junior high?
If we gather these classmates for a group photo in a few years, will they pose in the same gender-neutral group hug, or will there be an arm's length between boys and girls?
How long will it take before they stop raising their hands to vote on who likes apples and who doesn't, or to offer an unsolicited opinion or observation on life in general. Or to simply ask "Why?"
Now here's the big question:
Was American author/essayist Robert Fulghum right when he famously concluded that we can learn all we really need to know about "how to live and what to do and how to be" in kindergarten?
Take it from a reporter who had to go to Ms Gietz's class to learn the simple joy of sharpening your pencil on both ends, you can learn a lot -- namely that it's OK to admit that going somewhere you've never been before can be scary.
Grade 1, for example.
Chief correspondent for the Class of 2005 is looking like a dream assignment.
Sources have actually insisted they be interviewed, and there's not a single spin doctor in the bunch.
None of that "off the record" business, no jargon and no doublespeak -- just the occasional honest, and refreshingly rare, response of "I don't know."
And if the interview is suddenly cut short, well, it's nothing personal, Reporter Lady, but life is calling.
Of course, all of that may change...
See you in Grade 1.
Favourite music: Jazz -- "fancy jazz, cool jazz, that kind." And Lizzie McGuire (a.k.a. Hilary Duff).
Career plans: Teacher
Favourite TV show: Winx Club. "The witches always try to do evil stuff to spoil the Winx Club plans, but the Winx powers are more gooder and cooler than the witches."
Career plans: Ballerina
Hero: Jesus. ("Because he's God's brother.")
Career plans: Sweeper (to pay for all the Yugioh and Pokemon cards).
Age: Just turned 6
Favourite music: Hilary Duff and Britney Spears. "I have it on earphones."
Career plans: Dog doctor. Or rock star.
Best thing about going into Grade 1: "I get to have a Pizza Pop at school."
Fears: None. "I'm not even scared of a tarantula."
Fears: When his brother yells "Boo!" and the prospect of entering Grade 1.
Career goal: Construction-site worker
Most important person in Winnipeg: The mayor
Future career: Veterinarian
Dislikes: Books, "vegetables mixed up with mushrooms."
Future career: Bush doctor. "My daddy's one. He cuts down trees if they're in people's way.
Age: 6 1/2
Favourite TV show: Berenstain Bears
Future career: "My job will be I'd just help mommy with everything."
Age: Just turned 6
Hero: Wonder Woman -- "Because she's a girl and William (little brother) likes her."
Future career: Marry somebody and get a job.
Most important person in Winnipeg: Mommy
Future career: Chainsaw operator ("I'd cut down ice.")