The best thing about going to school are the memories. They were emotional experiences so we remember them. The good and the bad, they have found a place in our mind and they will be there until the day we die.

Teachers are always looking for novel ways to open the school year. Here’s one suggestion. After regaling the students with two or three of your school memories, put them in groups and have them tell one another about their memories. If you are working with smaller children who may not have collected memories, ask them what they are looking forward to doing. The important thing is to make school memorable and you can begin on Day 1.

What do we do when we attend class reunions? We talk about memories. “Do you remember Mr. So and So . . . ?” “Do you remember the school dance when . . . ?” The memories return as if they happened yesterday.

Here are some of my fondest memories of my k-12 years. Maybe my memories will jolt your brain and you will recall similar things to tell your students or friends on the biggest day of the school year -- the first day.

I said last week in my column that I remember the smell of my school. In first grade my brother and I and our best friend, Joe, would walk to school and we would open the heavy doors with the big brass handles and lots of panes of glass and then the smell of school would invite us in. To me it was a comforting smell. It said everything is going to be just fine and it’s going to be a fun day and usually it was.

I remember when Mr. Mahler, our superintendent, stood by the garbage cans during lunch hour to make sure we didn’t waste any food. We had Spanish rice one day with big chunks of cooked tomatoes in it and I, not liking tomatoes, was about to dump it when Mr. Mahler told me to take it back to the table and eat it. That was the last time I ate hot lunch for the next 11 years.

I remember when our first grade teacher, Miss Voxland, would have us sit on her lap. She became not only a teacher but a mother, too.

Before the days of instant communication, my brother and I walked all the way to school only to find that school was closed that day due to frozen pipes or something similar. I think we danced all the way home.

My second grade teacher, Miss Rossow, sent me to the principal’s office for lying to her about chewing gum. She then humiliated me more by peeking into the boys bathroom and asked me if I had learned my lesson. That was not a good day.

One of my favorite teachers was Miss Barslow in the fourth grade. She would have art several times a week. We had no special teachers in those days and the classroom teacher was expected to teach everything including phy ed. We didn’t have art in high school either. If we would have had it, I think I would have majored in art in college. It was my favorite subject and I was pretty good at imagining things to draw.

High school was a little scary especially when all of a sudden you were with the older kids. Like many small schools in the 50s, the elementary grades were on the first floor and the high school was on the second floor. High school opened up more doors, especially sports. I recall vividly the time as a seventh-grader on the “C” football team I ran 70 yards for a touchdown. Crossing the goal line was like having hundreds pinpricks of joy stuck in me.

I think I was a freshman when a student teacher kicked me out of a dance class she was having in physical education. I was being a jerk so she sent me to the study hall. My football coach, Mr. Dahl, was supervising at the time and he just smiled when I told him why I was there. I felt kind of sorry for the student teacher -- years later.

I wasn’t active in drama or debate or being on the speech team. That’s one huge regret for me. I had a speech impediment that was not diagnosed. As homecoming king I dreaded having to give a speech after being crowned. I forgot what I blurted out but I know one thing for sure, it wasn’t inspiring or probably even audible. What’s worse was that we lost the game -- by a big margin.

Graduating from high school, as I stated in earlier columns, was the worst day of my life. I didn’t want to leave those halls of ivy that had wrapped me up in loving arms for 12 years of my life. I didn’t want to leave the smell, the jostling in the halls, the looks of teachers when you gave the right answer, the books and the bells. They were dear to me and I think that’s why I became a teacher. For sure, I will never regret it. For any teacher out there who might read this, you won’t either.

Riddle: Which hand is it better to write with? (Neither, you should use a pen!) Some kids won’t crack a smile when you tell a riddle but underneath they are happy that you tried to make them chuckle. Guess what, they will tell it to their friends.

100 percent graduation

Thanks to Coca Cola, Thunderbird Graphics, Occupational Development Center, RMC Truck Parts and Fastenal for being the most recent businesses to support the 100 percent movement. We could reach a 100 percent graduation rate in one year if:

  1. Every adult would remember to spread the word to young people.
  2. We all believed we could do it.
  3. We had every school child make a commitment to graduate and every teacher, year after year, reminded them of that commitment. (A suggestion given to me by a LaValley Industry executive. He is right on.)

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.