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Oliver: Return to classroom fuels back-to-school memories

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

Area students are about to embark on another school year. As if all the back-to-school displays and ads hadn’t already made that abundantly clear to us adults.

This has always been a highlight of the year for me, even though I’ve never had children of my own. There’s something about a brand-new set of pencils or pens that makes my heart go pitter-patter. And let’s face it: The kids these days have way cooler stuff than when we went to school. It doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

When I was a kid, the beginning of a school year always meant a fresh start. Whatever had happened the year before had, mostly, been forgotten.

Three months was a pretty long time to let the worst of the wounds heal. It was plenty long enough to plot strategy on how to avoid the worst of what had happened the year before.

After all, with each passing grade, we kids were a bit older, and we wanted to think that we were ever so slightly more mature.

This was glaringly apparent when we made the jump from fifth grade to junior high, as if a magic wand somehow had been waved and we all were little adults now.

In our heads, that’s how we viewed ourselves. Maybe that’s why we all fell into the “new day, new drama” routine of middle school.

Or how about the jump from junior high to high school? We really were inching our way to adulthood then. Of course, the seniors made sure we freshmen didn’t let it go to our heads.

Think you’re cool? Think again.

These days, the back-to-school excitement is tempered ever so slightly by the realization that the start of school brings us ever that much closer to fall and that much closer to winter, the season of my discontent.

Still, as a kid, I could scarcely contain my excitement at the thought of returning to the classroom. I lived out in the “boonies,” so I didn’t really get to see my friends too often over the summer months. The return of school was like a homecoming year after year after year. There was three months of stuff to catch up on.

By August I also was ready to have my brain challenged with new math formulas, new works of literature, new concepts in science and new dates in history to memorize. Oh, and new compositions to play in band and new verbs to conjugate in Spanish class.

Here’s hoping our area students find as much excitement in the start of school as I did. If not, well, maybe we can try to convince them that school is just one big adventure waiting to unfold. Change doesn’t necessarily have to be bad.

Each day holds the promise of learning something new. Each day can be as good as they want it to be. One’s attitude holds the key.

The choice is theirs. Let’s hope they choose wisely.

Happy new school year!

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at

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