SOUTH BEND — Reality set in for South Bend students and their parents early Wednesday morning as school bells rang in the start of a new school year.
From the first walk to Marquette Montessori to meeting the principal for the first time; everyone was just about ready. But Christina Brown wasn't quite ready for the first time she had to say goodbye to her son, Donovin.
The 4-year-old began preschool this fall.
"I am trying to be strong in front of him," said Brown. "He's not my baby anymore."
Inside the classroom, it didn't take Donovin long to make new friends. It also didn't take his mother long to snap photos as he explored his brand new world.
"I'm a little sad and excited all at the same," Brown said.
Brown has confidence in one thing: the school. She's so sure, she didn't mind being placed on a waiting list.
"It was kind of a last minute surprise for us," said Brown about being able to attend the first day.
The environment is different at Marquette. Krystin Carlson, the principal says the school's philosophy is learning without limits.
"It really is child-driven," she said.
This is the only public Montessori school of its kind in the county. There's no tuition charge. But this new way of learning is not immune to budget cuts. So far, $8 million have been cut from the school corporation's budget this year.
Carlson said that at the school, parent's make the difference.
"For a school that is facing budget cuts, we got parents who say they will do whatever it takes," Carlson said.
As parents look forward to continuing that commitment in the new building, currently under construction, others are trying to make it through the day.
"I'm a little worried," Brown said.
Marquette Montessori's new building is just north of its existing campus. Construction is scheduled for completion this fall. Students are expected to move into the new building next semester.