Class of 2027: Lost Teeth and New Skills

Scattered to different schools, different hobbies
Alonso Garcia, left, moved to Springs for first grade and plays soccer six days a week; Ephraim Munoz remained at the John M. Marshall Elementary School and has lost four teeth since graduating from kindergarten a year ago. Morgan McGivern Photos

It’s been about a year since The East Hampton Star last caught up with five students, originally all enrolled in the Kristen Tulp’s kindergarten class at the John M. Marshall Elementary School. 

During a recent visit to Herrick Park, Alonso Garcia, now 7, was still soft-spoken, and stayed close to his mother and sister.

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This ongoing series examines the changing face of East Hampton through a diverse group of students, getting to know their families and their interests — and documenting how they grow and change over time

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So far, he’s lost six teeth, with two more already loose.

A recent move meant that Alonso started first grade at the Springs School in September. Though his mother initially worried about the transition from John Marshall, Alonso quickly adjusted to his new surroundings.

Soccer is his obsession. He plays constantly, both during recess and every afternoon after school on two teams, one in Springs and another at the Ross School. Mondays are his only days off. Alonso is the youngest player on the Ross team, which competes across Long Island and has boys ranging from 7 to 9.

Together, his mother, aunt, and grandmother run Elegant Touch, a nail salon in East Hampton on Railroad Avenue. This summer, his sister, Valentina Sanchez, 16, will again sit at the front desk, answering its busy telephone. Valentina, soon to begin her senior year at East Hampton High School, is looking at colleges in North Carolina, where the family paid a visit earlier this year. She hopes to study either psychology or criminal law. Meanwhile, Alonso will attend the nearby Y.M.C.A. sports camp five days a week.

Recently, when an 8-year-old teammate told Alonso that he wasn’t very good at soccer, his response was to simply start practicing more. “I wanted to show him that I’m good,” he said. Alonso still loves to eat chicken and pasta. And he still doesn’t know what he wants to do when he grows up.

“He has a good heart and likes to help other people,” said his mother, Adriana Garcia, who says her son has become stronger and more disciplined in the past year. “I just want him to do something good that makes him happy.”

Ephraim Munoz, now 7, just finished first grade at John Marshall. At four feet two inches, he’s already lost four teeth.

During a recent end-of-year ceremony, Ephraim received a prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. award, given each year to one student in each grade who possesses character traits related to leadership and kindness.

“My parenting has been validated,” his mother, Marci Vail, said during a recent trip to Herrick Park. Ephraim was in constant motion, busy scaling playground equipment, but stopping to check in every so often. “Obedience and politeness are very important to us, but we’re also trying to teach him to think for himself.”

His father, Carlos Munoz, a native of Ecuador, works as a carpenter and a handyman. Ms. Vail grew up in East Hampton, in the house where she still lives. She works as a bookkeeper for her husband’s business.

Now a cub scout, over the past year, Ephraim has become more comfortable in the water and regularly swims at the Y.M.C.A. This summer, he will take swimming lessons, offered for free to local residents by the Town of East Hampton at nearby bay beaches. Ephraim is also enrolled in an eight-week summer basketball program offered through the town.

Pizza, popcorn, and pasta are among his favorite things to eat. Ephraim also loves shoes — the newer the sneakers the better. Shay, a dog his family adopted from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, is a somewhat recent addition to the household.

Come September, Ms. Vail hopes to enroll her son in a martial arts class.

“I think Ephraim is a natural pacifist,” she said. “Even though he’s a leader and kind and helpful to other children, sometimes he doesn’t know how to deal with kids who are aggressive. I think it will help him to know how to defend himself.”

Since starting the series in September of 2014, two of the five students who were profiled have moved away. Olivia Chapman’s family decided against participating this year.

Midway through kindergarten, Atilla Secim’s family moved to Florida.

Atilla, now 7, was born in Turkey. He speaks Turkish, Arabic, some French, and fluent English. His family moved to East Hampton in 2014, temporarily living in his aunt’s weekend home.

They now live in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where Atilla just finished first grade. He’s enrolled at a soccer camp and loves to swim and check out books from the local public library.

Starting in the fall, Atilla will once again change schools, “hopefully for the last time,” said his mother, Ayse Secim. She and her husband, Murat, work together running a home-security business.

Later this summer, Atilla will start second grade at a nearby elementary school. Over the past seven years, Atilla has lived in three countries and two states, building his resilience each time.

When his mother asks him to name the favorite place his family has lived, his answer is always the same: East Hampton. “I guess it’s something about the cold and the snow,” she said.

His former classmate, Madison Alvarez, now 6, moved to Ogden, Utah, in late May, when her father, Fernando Alvarez, who had been managing a large East Hampton estate, found a new job. Working as an airplane mechanic will hopefully provide his growing family with greater economic security.

Nearly two years ago, the Alvarez family moved to East Hampton from Seattle, looking for well-paid, year-round work. They hoped to raise their family in a safe community, living within walking distance to good public schools.

“So far, she’s adjusting,” Antonia Alvarez, a stay-at-home mother, said during a recent phone call. “She seems to be doing okay.”

Like many of her former kindergarten classmates, it’s been a big year of transition for Madison. A baby sister, Eva, named after their maternal grandmother, arrived two months ago. She joins their brother Isaac, now 3. Madison loves changing the new baby’s diapers.

Madison, who still wants to be a doctor, misses her John Marshall classmates and asks after them constantly. Already, she’s written a letter to her friend Olivia and anxiously checks the mailbox each afternoon, awaiting her reply.