With their hands grasping their parents for support and a look of both fear and excitement shining in their eyes, hundreds of Columbus’ youngest students stepped into school for the very first first time on Wednesday as they began Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s newly-expanded prekindergarten program.

When the doors of BCSC schools opened for the first day of the 2016-2017 school year, the district unveiled its newest curriculum update: full-day, five-days-a-week prekindergarten.

Roughly 340 to 350 4-year-olds turned out for their first day of school ever on Wednesday, with full-day preschool programs available at all BCSC elementary schools except Columbus Signature Academy – Lincoln campus, Clifty Creek Elementary and Schmitt Elementary, said Shane Yates, the district’s new preschool director.

CSA – Lincoln students attend prekindergarten at the CSA – Fodrea campus, while Clifty Creek and Schmitt students attend class at the R.L. Johnson Early Childhood Center on Sycamore Street, Yates said.

For $150 a week, with scholarship options available, parents can enroll their children in BCSC’s pre-K program, where their children will learn skills such as number and letter recognition and how to properly interact with other students.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.