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A third-grader’s tips on surviving the first grade and then going back to school

Life with Patrick Connors is never dull. The 8-year-old offers an opinion on just about everything. Patrick loves school. The thought of entering the third grade at Maple West Elementary School in Williamsville throws a smile on his freckled face. So does Chewbacca, Patrick’s favorite “Star Wars” character.

In fact, there’s not too much this boy does not like – except when trees are cut down, or when a presidential candidate bugs him. Last year, the second-grader tried to organize a group to oppose the candidate.

Patrick is the son of Brian and Sheila Connors. He has two sisters, Riley and Nora, ages 13 and 10.

Here are some of Patrick’s advice and tips for going back to school.

People Talk: What is key to surviving first grade?

Patrick Connors: Let me think. Well, really all you have to do is pay attention, and listen to what the teacher is saying, and just work on the project you’re working, and try your hardest. If you don’t get a lot of answers right, that’s all right. You’ll get them next time. You learn from your mistakes.

PT: What was your finest moment as a first-grader?

PC: I think when they told me I was in advanced math class. I would say I’m above average with numbers.

PT: What did you learn from first grade?

PC: Well, I also learned this in kindergarten, but I was kind of a late bloomer. I learned that you’re always supposed to put a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. At the end of a sentence you’re supposed to put a period. If you’re excited you put an exclamation point. If you’re asking a question, you put a question mark. I think they want you to learn how to use sentences before you get into second grade.

PT: How are you at taking tests?

PC: I like tests a lot. I’m excited for them. Most of the time I’m not nervous, but sometimes I am.

PT: What are you excited for in third grade?

PC: The state tests, actually, because this is my first year doing it. I love tests.

PT: How’s the cafeteria food?

PC: I haven’t bought school lunch that much. I bought the French toast sticks once or twice. I buy grilled cheese every time they have it. It’s pretty good. But last time I personally didn’t like the French toast sticks because they were burnt. The syrup didn’t even help the burn. I could still taste it.

PT: When is your birthday?

PC: October 9, 2007. It’s my champagne birthday because I’ll turn 9 years old on the ninth. My mom was a teacher and she knows that.

PT: If you were president, what would your first official act be?

PC: Make a law not to cut down trees because trees supply oxygen and without any trees there’s no oxygen, and without oxygen we can’t breathe. And then there’s no life on earth. And we should stop hunting rhinos. They’re vulnerable animals that are almost to extinction. Without those animals the life cycle wouldn’t work. The carnivores that eat rhinos would starve. And they would die and the animals they eat would be overpopulated.

PT: What subject would you like to see more of in school?

PC: I would like to see more gym class because um ... actually no, I take that back. I would like to see more reading classes because I think people around the world struggle on reading more than any other subject. Well, no, I take that back. I think there should be more science classes.

PT: What’s the last book you’re read?

PC: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book. They’re really funny. It was the fifth one. But I’m not reading any more books right now because I want to save some so I can read while I’m in school.

PT: Who is your best friend?

PC: This kid named Robert. I like him a lot. He’s a lot of fun and he keeps his cool. He never overreacts. He never says: “We’re doing this because it’s my house.” He lets the guests pick what we want to do. And he has a lot of cool stuff to play with.

PT: What are your plans for the future?

PC: I’m going to be a dentist, and I’m going to buy a mansion and four wiener dogs and two guard dogs to protect my wiener dogs. And my wiener dogs’ beds will be like hot dog buns. And I will hire a butler to walk my wiener dogs.


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