School buses are waxed and ready. School rooms have been polished and shined. New clothes have been purchased and pencils sharpened.
Come Tuesday students across Northeast Michigan will return to school again.
It would be easy for school administrations across the region to be caught up in the bean counting, budget crunching and brick and mortar challenges that each of them face. In Michigan running a school district with T-bone steak goals on a hamburger budget has become more and more challenging.
For Michigan school superintendents, administrative staff and board members, trying to juggle each of those issues is a daily occurrence. In a state that has faced economic woes as much as Michigan has this past decade, those problems aren't easily erased.
Thankfully our region's school leaders understand that as important as those responsibilities are, however, they pale in comparison to the number one mission for each of them: To help students succeed, get a solid educational foundation for life and be safe while parents entrust their precious children to the school staffs across Northeast Michigan each day.
Alpena Superintendent Brent Holcomb, in the district's newsletter, Alpena Public Schools Reporter, wrote recently that "schools are not really schools until staff and students return."
That is so true.
For every frown that comes with a new mandated program from Lansing, there is a smile on a student's face the moment a new concept is finally understood. For every concern over state subsidy money, there is a sense of accomplishment at seeing a student with "troubles" turn the corner.
When you think about it, a school system is filled with a rich diversity of students and staff. Each brings a variety of strengths and weaknesses and the school environment is a melting pot of talent and potential. Such a setting is a stage for rich interaction and incredible growth. It is exciting when one considers all the potential that can occur under one roof during a school year.
I wish the students and staff across Northeast Michigan much success this new school year.
There will be enough time in the months ahead to write about buildings, budgets, and the trials and tribulations that accompany both.
Come Tuesday the story is about smiles and laughs, chalk and pencils, school bells and books. Tuesday's story is about a boy and girl who enter a building in preschool, and emerge a young man and woman at the other end upon graduation.
School is just around the corner. Hooray.