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Back to School

 In Carol's Corner, Weekly Forum Discussion

Written by: Carol Harrison; Carol’s Corner

I loved going back to school each year with all the new opportunities for learning. It meant routines, time with friends and getting to know new teachers. But to pick one favourite out of all the years I attended school proves difficult for me.

Many years have passed since I attended formal classroom education settings. The memories blur together in a haze of generality. Then there are the memories of getting my children ready to go back to school which add to the mix in the data banks of my brain and I fret about the mixed up filing system making a specific, favourite back to school memory almost impossible to retrieve.

As I attempt to recollect the specifics, I find myself drawn more and more to generalities. Of course, I am sure the beginning of the school journey likely held great anticipation along with a bit of fear. The first day of grade one meant walking the half a block to the edge of the playground. The big, castle-like school loomed at the other end of the playground, a sentry to all the secrets of learning happening within her walls. The girls’ door happened to be at the furthest end of the school. We needed to descend the wide staircase to the basement boot room before walking up another set of stairs to the main floor filled with classrooms on each side of the principal’s office and along the opposite wall as well.

I remember that first classroom, located right beside the principal’s office. The cloak room by the back door of the room had hooks to hang up our jackets before proceeding into the classroom proper with its rows of wooden desks. Each one had a drawer under it to store our school treasures like new notebooks just waiting to be printed in with pencils from our pencil cases. I had glue and erasers, crayons and a scissor.

I remember my teacher who reminded me of a grandmother with her sturdy sensible shoes and snow-white hair. She had rules and enforced them, but so did my parents and other teachers too. My best friend, who only lived a few doors down from my house, was in the same classroom. We could walk to school together, hang out at recess playing jacks or skipping rope and talking about all the new things we learned in a day.

Even now I have fond, although general, memories of school in Miss McLaren’s classroom. She had high expectations, encouraged us to reach way beyond any comfort zone we might have had and opened a wonderful world for my imagination when she taught me to read and love books.

Each school year brought its own memories. Some teachers I liked better than others. Getting textbooks, especially readers, brought great anticipation and excitement for learning. Back to school supplies when I attended school were pretty basic. The pencil boxes were just that – little wooden boxes, at least for many years. The notebooks were all the same as were the pencils. By the time my children attended school, back to school shopping offered considerably more choices and took time for each child to pick what worked with the school must-have list.

Now I still love to wander through the back to school supply aisles at the stores. I have to refrain from buying more coloured pens, pencil crayons and fun notebooks(to say nothing of the colourful sticky notes). Often I just have to have one more pack of pens – after all, I do like to write.

This year I had the privilege of helping take a granddaughter to college. Being part of her back to school days made me long for another time of going back to school myself. Oh well, there are online courses to take or the option to audit a class at the university one year. For now, I will smile as I allow the memories of long ago back to school times to jumble together in my memory as they fight their way back to consciousness.

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