By Cheri Rae
When you have kids in school, those first few glorious weeks of summer vacation seem to stretch on forever. But those last few weeks seem to speed up and pass way too fast in anticipation of the next school year.
And here we are, poised and waiting for the school bells to signify the start of 2014-2015. The local economy has experienced a boom in purchases of back-to-school clothes and shoes, notebooks and backpacks, essential electronics and all those extras like locker decorations, water bottles and reusable lunch containers.
As the First Day of School approaches, parents and kids of all ages anticipate, speculate and calculate the days ahead.
And so do their teachers, administrators and a whole host of volunteers who want to start the school year off in the most positive way possible.
Early in the week, along with scores of other parents, students and school staff, I worked a few shifts at the annual Dons Derby at Santa Barbara High School, where the entire student body shows up to turn in their paperwork, pick up their schedules, and face the reality of back to school.
As I processed their newly issued student ID cards in the timeworn building known as the “little gym,” I had the chance to interact with a lot of teens.
It was a reminder that despite all the technological advances—Digital, instantaneous photography! Smart phones! Texting!—the basics of high school society really haven’t changed that much in the many years since I was a high school student. Seniors still acted like they own the place; Juniors seemed a little stressed; Sophomores seem as through they have just about got their bearings, and the new little Freshmen just seem dazed and confused.
Passing through were student government kids; jocks and the surfers; giggly girls and drama queens; the determined individualists—all mostly cooperative, polite and conscientious about accomplishing their tasks and figuring out the system. There was a small amount of sullenness among those who worked hard to be too cool for school, and only a handful who really seemed like they didn’t want to be there at all.
Most of all, a couple of mornings of work on that historic campus made me proud of these kids growing into young adults staying on path and doing their best to accomplish their high school goals in challenging times—just as more than 100 classes before them.
At the end of this school year, graduates, including my own son, will be heading out into the “real world” to pursue their dreams and chart their course to achieve their full potential to the best of their ability. They will be grounded in the values taught by their parents, the example shown by their community and the lessons they’ve learned in school—year after year, on that long pathway from pre-school to high school graduation.
May we be worthy of fulfilling that awesome responsibility to the next generation in our midst—wherever they are on that pathway—just headed back to school in a few short days.
Part II: teachers get schooled