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Students are picture-perfect
School photo traditions continue
A photographer adjusts her equipment as she prepares to take a student’s picture. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
Liberty Elementary School was a sea of patent leather shoes and pinafores Tuesday as more than 700 children filed into the gym for the annual production known as picture day.
Some swiped bangs out of their faces; others tightened ties and adjusted their shirts just so.
Gone were the school uniforms; present were big, camera-ready smiles.
“It generates a lot of excitement,” fourth-grade-teacher Cynthia Carter said. “They take special attention today with their appearance.”
Lifetouch photographers set up around 7 a.m. to prepare for the seemingly endless parade of bouncy, energetic children. Most sat quietly and beamed at the camera. A few bashful students burst into tears.
The photographers said they’ve seen everything when it comes to elementary school picture day —noses in need of a tissue, spaghetti-stained white shirts and mouths tinted blue from sticky Popsicles.  
School photographer Ginger Rhodes keeps a few tools on hand — combs, antibacterial wipes and tissues — to deal with sticky, icky or unsightly situations.
“We’ve had kids throw up right before,” she said. “It’s like the doctor’s office … they’re scared because of the setup.”
Rhodes said she usually tries to get children to smile by saying silly things and making them laugh while snapping two or three photos in case a subject blinks or isn’t smiling.
Every fifteen minutes, more students shuffled into the gym. Chatter reached the high ceilings and echoed off the white walls.
Justin Peterman's fourth-grade class marched into the makeshift photo studio after lunch. Although they had just finished eating, the students were stain-free and dressed in bright colors — a stark contrast to the solid-color school uniforms the children usually sport.
Michael Redding, who wore a white, purple and blue striped long-sleeved shirt with a navy blue tie, said he was excited to get his photo taken.
“I just like seeing my picture in the yearbook,” said Redding, 10, who said it took him a half hour to get dressed that morning.
His substitute teacher, Cheryl Brett, helped him knot his tie properly.
Caleb Jackson, 9, also dressed to the nines for picture day. The fourth-grader wore slacks, a maroon vest and a striped tie. He knew precisely what he was going to wear for the big day, he said, matter-of-factly.   
He claimed it took him a whole two minutes to achieve the polished, professional look.
In September, Carter’s class will make time capsules filled with school photos and other things that represent each student.
The teacher said her students will visit the school nurse to get their physical measurements, which will go into boxes along with the children’s beginning-of-the-year photographs. Carter will store the boxes on a classroom shelf until the end of the year.
When the last month of school rolls around, she said, students will open their boxes to evaluate how much they have changed.
“This is something they will treasure,” Carter said of the project.
Photos taken Tuesday will be ready in a few weeks. Picture retake day is Oct. 5.

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