Now, with Labor Day behind us and the first splashes of tree color developing, children in the North Country will be returning to school.
For some it will be their first time at school. Many will have been to their community school, but only to visit with mom and Dad but never left at school without them.
I can remember my first day of school quite clearly. I had to get up early and I had to take a shower and I had to put on new clothes and shoes that pinched my heel as they were not worn in yet to a more comfortable fit.
The step from the road up to the first step of the bus was big and then getting up on to the seat was a struggle. There I sat, my feet not touching the floor. I had several siblings on the bus so it was not as scary as it might have otherwise been. As I struggled from by bouncy seat, my sister took my hand and brought me to my classroom and told me that she would come see me later.
It seems almost impossible to believe, but one of my greatest difficulties that first day was keeping my pants up. Though my belt was cinched up to the last hole, there just was not very much of me back then and I noticed that other little boys were also struggling. The bigness of everything left a strong impression, the tall ceilings, the tall people, the tall water fountains and the tall buildings.
Many people that I have encountered over the years do remember their first day of school no matter what their perception of the experience might have been. There is no question what an endelible impression that first day of school makes. It goes without saying that these first school impressions may have long lasting impact, good or bad.
Many students will be returning students and many will look forward to getting back to school including playing sports, being with friends all day and seeing their teachers.
For some, the idea of returning to school may provoke apprehension our outright fear. Often, these will be students that, for one reason or another do not fit in very well. They are too heavy, too thin, too short, too tall, too smart, not smart enough or a multitude of other reasons that may somehow set the student apart.
Would anyone today believe that wearing glasses could be a reason to be picked on?
Today being picked on or bullied at school is much more complex than it used to be in my opinion. School should be a safe place where there is an intentional effort by the school to keep all students safe. Students should be safe from danger, safe from bullying and safe from emotional hurts. All area schools that I am aware of have anti-bullying programs and do everything they can to make sure that students are safe.
School should be the one place in the community where there is justice and equality without regard to where you come from, where you live, who your family is or how big your house is. I believe that many area schools do provide a school culture that is just and I can think of many successful students who did not come from wealthy homes or had connected or important families.
As parents one of the best things that you can do is to actually go to your children’s school. Make your own observation of the school culture, speak up when you see things that you really like or do not like. In all likelihood, you will not be alone, other parents will be seeing the same things. Attending school functions or being supportive of your community school lets your children know that you care about their school and that while everything may not be perfect, nothing is, you are part of their school community.
Your presence and involvement will punctuate just how important school is.
Remember, all kids count.
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