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Alice Collins: Hot days, even for the end of summer

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This is the month when we are facing the end of summer but there are often some really hot days. For many families it is the month when the family is recovering from a major vacation trip. Our parents were busy making sure we had school clothes that fit. We had often outgrown last year’s wardrobe. The other problem for kids was that the start of the new school year meant some disturbing thoughts and worries. Who would be our teacher and would our best friend be in our class? It was especially unnerving when we were moving to a new building like from elementary school to Middle School, which in our day was called Junior High. This change added kids from what we called grade schools all over town into one building housing all of the town’s 7th and 8th graders. We found ourselves in some classes where we knew only a few or even none of our classmates and our best friend might not be in any of the same classes. And that was a major adjustment. There was no recess so getting acquainted was more of a challenge and could only take place in some of the less formal classes like gym. For talkers like me the problem was less about getting acquainted and more about knowing when to keep quiet and avoid being assigned to spend some time after school in what was called detention. I managed to avoid that except for a couple times and found it very depressing which was probably a good reaction to help me avoid the behavior that landed me there. The schools our kids and grandkids have attended look “different” from the ones we remember. The elementary school I went to was in the same building my mother went to years before. The stairs had sagging centers from the wear of many feet and the walls and windows showed their age, because much was unchanged from my mother’s day. There were some relatively young teachers in some grades, but the first grade teacher was the one my mother had years before and I had difficulty living up to her memories of my delightful mom. The electronics available to kids today would have amazed us and our teachers. Everything was written in chalk on the blackboard and it was a treat when a slide show was used to give us a start on a new topic. Today kids have their own hand-held electronic devices and are often not allowed to have them in class where they can serve as a distraction. Our grandchildren and great grands have managed to avoid many of the punishments I remember being handed out to students in my day. We have been pleased in general with their behavior and academic progress in school. As a couple of retired teachers that is important to us. Thinking back on some of the teachers who are strong in my memory, I hope that a few of the kids I taught have some good memories of my days teaching classes and directing bands. They are great memories for me. The schools our kids and grandkids have attended look quite different from the ones we remember. The elementary school I went to was in the same building my mother went to many years before. The stairs had sagging centers from the wear of many feet and walls and windows showed their age, but much was unchanged from my mother’s day. There were some relatively young teachers in some grades but the first grade teacher was the one my mother had and I had difficulty living up to her memories of my delightful mom. Thinking back on some of the teachers who are still strong in my memory I cannot help but hope that a few of the kids I taught have some good memories of my days teaching classes and directing school bands. They are great memories for me.

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