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Reading a Personal Story
Remember When Back To School
Yesterday my girlfriend and I headed out to the mall. She wanted to get new earrings and a gift for her parents, so I decided to go along for the ride. When we got there, it was absolutely packed. I had kinda figured that it was due to the nasty weather. Then I couldn’t help but notice that there were more kids than usual in every single store. Parents were chasing their kids in and out of the shoe stores, and passing them handfuls of clothes through a halfway opened fitting room door. It was at that point when it hit me: it was back to school season. Then I came to the realization that I was not going back to school.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, there is no back to school for me. Not for nothing, but it really did hit me like a ton of bricks. You get so used to doing certain things every year, like a birthday or an anniversary, and this was no different to me. Back to school was something I was accustomed to, and it was kinda scary and kinda sad to know that those days are behind me. The truth is, those were the best days, and I never appreciated it, not until it was too late. In this episode, I want to touch upon a few specific times that stick out in my mind when it comes to going back to school.
I remember the day my mother registered me for elementary school. I was 5 years old and had been in pre-school since the age of 3. I had fun back then. All I did was play all day, which is really all that pre-school is. At best, we learned 2+2=4 and the ABCs. The day that my mom registered me was the first time I had ever been inside a real school. We went into the main office and my mom, along with a few other parents, was talking to our Principal, Mr. K. I didn’t have a care in the world, and I had no idea what was happening to me. All I knew was that I was playing Legos with a bunch of kids who I had never met before.
To me, the place was tremendous. It was one of the biggest buildings I had ever seen. When my mom explained that I would be starting school there in the next few weeks, I was overcome with joy. All I knew was that the place had a big gym, a boss playground, and already I had played with Legos, so I knew it couldn’t be that bad. Not to mention that in pre-school, our small classroom was filled with toys. This place was massive and had two floors, so it’s nothing short of a Toys R’Us. And the idea of meeting new kids and making more friends was more than I could have ever imagined. And it gets better: all of my friends from pre-school were going to be there! Score! Then she explained that it wasn’t going to be quite like that. She told me about assignments and homework, and suddenly I wasn’t very excited about it.
Then the day came: First Day of School. Now despite the fact that I had no interest in being there, I wasn’t at all like the other kids who didn’t want to be there. I didn’t cry or pout or beg for my parents. I kinda just went and kept my mouth shut about it. My mom dropped me off in front of the building, and I got on line to enter the class with people who would affect me for the next 20 years. I met two guys, Travis and Andy, and we hit it off immediately. We all loved Batman and WWF, and we spent many days in the cafeteria, talking toys over Hi-C. Now we discuss jobs and debt over beer, but we still have our toys.
I enjoyed elementary school for the most part (except for one cry baby that would get me in trouble so often my teacher sent weekly reports to my parents). I mean, once you adjust to everything, it isn’t so bad, and you only went for half the day so I was usually home by 12:30. That school was pretty great, although I didn’t realize it until later. I was exposed to so many different things like school plays, talent shows, a Computer room, and 5 years of awesome teachers. I learned a lot in that place, and I had a really good reputation with the teachers and the Principal. I can credit that to my parents who were always involved with the PTA.
I didn’t appreciate it until the last day of fifth grade. Summer vacation was coming and so was Junior High School. We had a moving up ceremony that morning, and all of our families and teachers came out for it. Basically, this was kiddie graduation. Now, our school had this horrendous theme song, which they still have to this day. We sing about how we sing and laugh and learn all of the time, and how much we love our teachers. The truth is of course we did, but you don’t understand that as a 9 year old. Every time we sang this song we felt dumb. I’m honestly surprised that our parents didn’t laugh at us every time we did this at a recital. Now for about 3 years we had been singing this new smash hit, and we were instructed to sing it at the end of the ceremony.
The end of the ceremony came and we all began to sing it, and honestly, I think we all knew that this was the last time we would be doing so. Everyone seemed to have a sense of pride when we sung it that final time. I talked to a few people after and we all had concluded that we were happy we got to sing that stupid song one last time. We didn’t appreciate it until that day. Maybe because we had finally realized how cool the place was. Maybe it was because we were scared about going into middle school, but regardless, it wasn’t until the last day that we knew what we had. The old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” definitely applies.
I remember the first day of middle school with feeling of excitement and fear. I was excited because you would actually move from classroom to classroom and have to follow a schedule, which seemed to break the day up a little. I was excited because we had a dance every month, or as we called it, a canteen. We also had sports teams that we could play for and represent the school. But the idea of a little fish in a big pond definitely put some fear in all of us, since we were used to being the all mighty fifth graders. When I arrived at the school, we were all standing outside waiting to go in. Thankfully, we had been given a tour of the place a few weeks prior, so we knew where we were going. This was the point in time where you would meet new kids from the other schools and make new friends.
That seemed poignant when I looked back upon middle school. For most of us, it was terrible. Maybe that added to the fear as well. My father told me that middle school was going to be the roughest three years of my educational career, and he wasn’t kidding. You get a bunch of bratty, hormone filled know-it-alls with an attitude problem, and confine them into one space. Popular and unpopular was becoming a force that gained strength with every day of those three years. I was more or less caught in the middle, which is where I think you should be. In the case of junior high, it’s good to be neutral. That period of time in my life was all but useless. I didn’t have any dates or girlfriends despite my every attempt, and I hated nearly every single teacher I had. I desperately missed the fifth grade, and couldn’t get to high school fast enough. The only things that made middle school worthwhile was meeting one of my very best friends for the first time, and finally getting some recognition with a band I was in.
Then High School finally came, and a wave of relief overcame me for a few reasons. The main thing was that I was out of middle school, which was worth its weight in gold. The other reason is because it’s around this point in time that you start thinking about college and what it would be like to go away. High School was pretty cool for me. Again, I was in the middle of the pack, but seeing as kids were a lot more laid back and didn’t care about status as much, I seemed to lean more in a positive light. I was a varsity letterman by the end of my freshman year, and things seemed to be better. The next three years flew, and then came my big move to Florida. I was going to school in Tampa, and had moved all of my stuff in to my dorm. I was happy and excited (abridged from http://www.retrojunk.com/content/article/10098/index/).
Activity I: Mastering Vocabulary