Bill Clinton and Igey head back to school

The boys piled out of the house this morning in fresh white shirts and uniform pants, giant backpacks flapping behind them. The new school year began today at the International Community School, and as our year-long series ends, Bill and Igey are starting fourth and second grades.

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    As new fourth graders line up for recess on the first day of school, teacher David Bellamy takes questions about the hermit crabs, and Bill starts to get to know them.
    Mary Wiltenburg
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The boys piled out of the house this morning in fresh white shirts and uniform pants, giant backpacks flapping behind them. The new school year began today at the International Community School, and as our year-long series ends, Bill and Igey are starting fourth and second grades. Last night around nine, I got a panicked call from Igey: "Um, Mary? Is orange a boy color or a girl color?" He had gotten a new backpack in his favorite shade, and was taking flak from Bill, who had opted for basic black.Both boys were anxious to get to school this morning. When their parents went inside to sign their health forms, the brothers split for their new classrooms without waiting for an escort.Down in his second-grade room, Igey found his seat and got to work on a Getting-to-know-you questionnaire. The boy, who'd started his second pass through first grade last fall unable to read, took one look at the first question - "What is your favorite color?" - and broke into a grin. O-R-N-I-N-G, he wrote. Then, examining it, he said, "That doesn't look right."In teacher David Bellamy's fourth-grade room, Bill chose the desk with the best view of the classroom's hermit crab tank, and began making the acquaintance of Colombia (the greenish one), Jamaica (the shy one), and Barbados (the pretty one). "Awww," the girls chorused, as Mr. Bellamy brought out the light-shelled crustacean with the purple claws. Bill, who a year ago was shy to the point of mute frustration, joined his classmates in peppering their teacher with questions. How do hermit crabs eat, Bill asked - which led to whether they bite, which led, in a roundabout way, to how they change shells. Which, it turns out, involves a funny dance, featuring much wiggling of a hermit crab's "big old rear end," that Mr. Bellamy does extremely well. Giggling ensued, and the kids were in high spirits as they lined up for morning recess.And then Bill was out on the playground, where soccer teams of familiar faces picked up where they'd left off in May, and began tearing up and down the field. A ball flew way out of bounds, and Bill ran to retrieve it, delivering it back with a spectacular kick over the top of a classroom trailer. Play resumed, and he sauntered around the building and took possession of the ball wearing an enormous grin, as friends clustered around shouting for passes: "Bill! Bill! Bill!"

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