First the bad news. Summer is almost over. Now the good news. Students get to return to school, which may be in their home or in their actual school building or both. This is good news because it will be a very interesting year and it could even be fun.

How can school possibly be fun when you have to wear a mask, spend half the time or all the time at home and constantly disinfect your hands? Who are you kidding? This doesn’t sound fun to me.

We live in interesting times. Remember when older folks would tell stories about how they had to walk a couple of miles to school through snow and rain and mud and whatever? Today’s students will be able to tell the same type of story. “I can remember the days when we had to wear a mask to school. I can remember when we had to stay home to go to school. I can remember when we always had to wash our hands and we couldn’t touch anyone. Yes, those were the good old days.”

When all is said and done, it’s all in the way you look at things. It’s like the old story I was told many years ago about a study that was made to determine why some kids are very creative and others aren’t. A creative boy and a not-very-creative boy were chosen for the study. The researchers put the not-so-creative boy in a room with a whole bunch of games and toys and computers and electronic gadgets and so on. The other boy was placed in a room with a pile of fresh cow manure.

The researchers were bewildered at how the non-creative boy just kind of sat amidst all of these neat toys and did nothing. The researchers were amazed, however, at the more creative boy who was picking up globs of cow manure and throwing them at the wall, one glob after another. When the researchers interviewed him and asked him why he was throwing this disgusting manure at the wall, the boy said, “With all of that cow manure piled up, I just knew there had to be a calf in there some place.”

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This year will be good practice for developing a positive attitude—for everyone. Why? There is no other choice. What is the positive side of going to school this fall for students?

  • Students will have a great story to tell their kids and grandchildren some day.
  • When they talk to their friends on the phone, they will have plenty to talk about.
  • Students may actually look forward to attending school. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.
  • Students will be able to experience a different school atmosphere.
  • With smaller face-to-face class sizes, students are more likely to get more personal attention.
  • With fewer students in school, students are less likely to experience bullying or being picked on.
  • Students will need to find a new way of being friends while still maintaining social distancing.
  • When at home, students will have to learn how to learn on their own without a teacher looking at them. Learning how to learn is a great skill to have.
  • Because every student will experience this new way of going to school, they can empathize with one another. Empathy is another great quality to possess.
  • Because students will have other worries and concerns, what they wear may not be as important this year.
  • Students will look for the most creative face mask. Teachers, too.
  • With students spread out in the classroom, they may actually get more schoolwork done. There is no one to whisper or pass notes to.
  • For the first time ever, high school students may not have a snow day. I don’t think they will miss it.
  • Students will now have an excuse for being on the computer so often.
  • For some students, virtual learning will be better for them.
  • It may be easier for seniors to graduate because teachers are more likely to give students the benefit of the doubt.
  • Students should do better because parents will inadvertently become more involved in the education of their children.
  • Homework will take on a whole new meaning.
  • Students will be less likely to be marked absent because the classroom will be their home.
  • Students will probably be able to raid the refrigerator when working from home. Some will get more done because of this.
  • Students working at home will be able to get up and walk around, which also may benefit them.
  • Students’ pets won’t miss them so much. Now students can take their pets to school.
  • Students can roll out of bed in their pj’s and get to work.
  • Students can sleep later when learning from home. That, in itself, has to make for a more interesting year. In fact, they may not even get out of bed.

“Yes, in the olden days, I can remember when I stayed in bed all week and went to school at the same time. Now that was really tough.”

Riddle: Why is it bad to write on an empty stomach? (Answer: It’s not so bad but paper is better.) This year students who are learning virtually can snack during the day so an empty stomach shouldn’t be a problem.

100%

We now have 400 supporters of the 100% graduation goal initiative. Thanks to the following for your support: Northwoods Bait and Tackle, Thrifty Kids, AutoZone, Lakes Auto Body Specialists, Karl's TV, Appliance & Mattress, BSE (Border States Electric), Dudley’s Cafe (Leonard), Havenwood Care Center, Carquest, Building Component Specialists, EAPC -- Craig Clark.

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