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In less than two weeks it’s . . . Back to School time

It will be a sure sign that the end of Summer has arrived, regardless of what the official calendar says, when, in less than two weeks on August 24, those familiar yellow school buses will begin to spill onto local roads, ferrying young students in the annual back-to-school migration. It will be a school year never before seen by students, teachers and parents with COVID-19 safety precautions in place and feelings of uncertainty  about more than just reading, writing and arithmetic sure to be experienced by all. 

In this not even close to normal world of 2020, my prayers for safety and sanity go out to all involved in reopening our schools. It’s another new normal world we have to get used to, and by going forward in it together, and supporting each other along the way, is one sure way we can all survive whatever happens and see a better day. 

With that said, let’s think back for a moment. Do you remember that first day back to school when you were a child?  There was as much joyful anticipation as there was anxiety about that day.  There are at least 14 first days total from pre-kindergarten to high school, each with their own special memory.  How about the first time you rode on the bus or the first time you wore a backpack, your first locker and or maybe, if you were lucky, the first time you drove a car to school?

As a parent I now find myself reliving some of those moments – some welcome and some I’d rather leave in the past. I can remember back to my first days of elementary school. Reflecting back, and yes I am going to severely date myself, I can still remember how the feelings of Summer ending consumed me with sadness and apprehension as a new school year was about to begin. On Sunday nights, my mother would treat me with my favorite bowl of Campbell’s Alphabet Soup and let me eat in front of the black and white TV and watch my favorite program. To this very day, the aroma of that particular variety of soup and the sound of the theme song from the Lassie television show, cause a knot to build in my stomach and head straight for my throat.

As we send our children off to their first days, let’s remind them of a couple of things.  Number one and most importantly – that we love them for who they are and who they will become.  Number two – treat others as you wish to be treated with a special reminder here to our young ones that bullying in no way, shape or form will be tolerated.  Number three – you get out what you put in.  Work hard every day to be the best you can be and your goals can become realities.

For many students, it’s a time of excitement, wonder and some degree of trepidation. Guiding them through that nervous first day will be the teachers who will become a significant part of their lives for the school year.

Teachers and school administrators are amazing people who come to school every day because they love to educate and share knowledge.

Many dig into their own pockets to buy classroom supplies. They stay late to help students who are struggling and answer emails from concerned parents at all hours. At any moment, a teacher could make an impression on a student that serves as the launching point for new career goals, or a turning point in a young person’s life.

Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

In this back-to-school season, take a moment to say thanks to all the teachers and school staff members who have mastered that art.

This is an exciting time of the year as the future leaders of our community head back to school. Some are experiencing the anxiety of leaving the security of home, while others are returning with a sense of confidence and excitement.

What should we as parents say to them as they launch into a new year?

Be careful of the friends that you select because “you will be judged by the company that you keep”. Show deference to people because they deserve to be respected no matter what position they might have or clothes that they might wear. Be sure to eat all of your lunch because you need your nutrition and remember that there are starving young people around the world who would love to have what you have.

Study hard because, not unlike your Mom and Dad, this is your job and your grades are your compensation. Pay attention in class because the teacher deserves your respect and your effort will determine how well you do.

Behave yourself. When you are in school, the way that you act and speak represents you and your family. Do not say or do anything that you would not want to do or say in front of your parents. Know that there are always consequences for your behavior.

Play fairly with others because your classmates will know your values by the way you treat them, and when you get on a bus, take care, make some new friends and show respect for the driver. And for goodness sakes, if you drive to school DO NOT touch your phone to try to talk or text and drive!

Remember that your Mom and Dad love you and support you and their expectations for you are high. Keep clean, wash your hands, don’t text and drive and don’t eat with your mouth open.

Good luck to all the teachers, students and parents as a new year begins. Stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and good luck to those parents, who in addition to having COVID issues on their minds, now have to think about learning Algebra all over again!

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