|Megan Donofrio poses for a quick photo with her brother Adam before he heads to the bus stop. Megan, 17, will be a senior at Loudoun Valley High School while Adam, 5, will begin kindergarten at Hamilton Elementary. Photo Courtesy/ Andrea Donofrio|
Sept. 3 was Megan Donofrio's last first day of school.
Sure, the 17-year-old Loudoun Valley senior has college to look forward, but she now has just one year left for school dances, cheering in the student section for Vikings football games and lunching with friends in the cozy cafeteria.
But before Megan grabbed her things and ventured off from her Hamilton home to her Purcellville high school, she and her family first waited and then watched as little brother Adam boarded the bus for his first day of kindergarten.
“It's exciting. It's been a long time coming,” Megan said. “He's very intelligent for his age, so we've been waiting for this moment for a while.”
For the the Donofrio clan, this year's first day is a momentous, if not chaotic, occasion. As Megan began her final year, youngest son Adam begins his first year of school. Meanwhile sons Andrew (ninth grade), Joseph (seventh grade), Daniel (fifth grade) and James (second grade) all start school years of their own.
While Megan and her parents, Mark and Andrea Donofrio, are already hyper-focused on her academic year, which includes applying for college and scholarships, they have the benefit of having put five kids through kindergarten.
“I think with the first kid, you're just so excited,” Andrea Donofrio. “Now, it's about who the teachers is, what's the curriculum.”
Andrea Donofrio also emphasized the importance of balance.
“I'm hoping with all of the senior activities, the excitement from Adam doesn't get pushed aside,” she said.
So while helping Megan prepare applications for Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Pittsburgh, where she hopes to study pre-med, Andrea and Mark Donofrio also guide Adam through the nuances of kindergarten – riding the bus for the first time, meeting new teachers and leaving home daily. Fortunately, Adam has five siblings, including two with him at Hamilton Elementary to show him the ropes.
When asked about what he was most looking forward to in starting school, Adam was quick to answer.
“Show and tell,” the 5-year-old said. “You get to bring in games.”
Megan has plans of her own to make the most out of her senior year.
“I want to focus on school, go to more sporting events, make more friends,” Megan said of her plans for this year. “This is your last year, might as well be friendly with everyone.”
But she added that she wanted to spend more time with her family before she leaves, including her youngest brother, of whom she is protective.
“Some of my brothers are more sports-focused, others are more academic,” Megan said. “I'm interested to see what path he takes.”
Fortunately, she has a whole year to see.
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