Whitehall City School officials are setting their sights on some of the littlest lambs in 'Ram Country' as they launch a new program, Little Rams Round-Up, this month.

Whitehall City School officials are setting their sights on some of the littlest lambs in 'Ram Country' as they launch a new program, Little Rams Round-Up, this month.

Little Rams are not actually lambs, but the youngest students in Whitehall, those set to enter kindergarten during the 2015-16 school year.

While kindergarten registration has always existed in Whitehall, the district's executive director of elementary education, Darrell Propst, thought providing a more encompassing experience would make parents feel at home.

"We want families' first experience with Whitehall schools to be a very positive one," Propst said. "It's always helpful to get to know parents and families as soon as possible."

Instead of merely handing in the required paperwork, Whitehall families are now invited to an event meant to be a one-stop experience.

Parents of incoming kindergartners will be able to pick up registration materials, tour a kindergarten classrooms, pick up information and resources on child healthcare, and participate in free games and crafts meant to make the newest 'Rams' feel comfortable.

Representatives from the city of Whitehall, the Whitehall Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Whitehall Family Health Center (part of the Heart of Ohio Family Health Centers), and the C. Ray Williams Early Childhood Development Center, among others, will be on hand, said Propst.

Young ones will be able to meet the Columbus Clippers mascot, Krash, as well as win prizes.

A free dinner also will be served.

Propst admitted that in the modern day and age when student testing is becoming more and more prominent -- even at the kindergarten level -- it's imperative that parents know what is expected of their children. Last year was the first year for the state's new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment -- called the KRA -- replacing the former KRA-L.

The assessment focuses not only on language and literacy, but physical well-being, motor skill development, math, science, social studies and social skills.

According to Propst, the test is being tweaked again this year -- to be shorter and more focused.

The new assessment "is not a barrier to kindergarten entry" according to the Ohio Department of Education. Instead, the results are meant to provide teachers with a better understanding of each student, identifying educational strengths and weaknesses early. The new kindergarten test also can be used to meet the state's reading diagnostic assessment required for Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee if language and literacy items are administered by Sept. 30.

But Propst said the Round-Up will be all about gaining knowledge and having fun. Teachers and other staff members from each of the district's three elementary schools will be on hand to provide parents with information -- and a few comforting words.

The Little Rams Round-Up is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at Kae Avenue Elementary School, 4738 Kae Ave. Advance registration is not required.

In order to be eligible for kindergarten in the 2015-16 school year, children must be 5 years old by Sept. 30, 2015.