Like most adults, I would assume, I don't remember the first day of school for just about any year. Parents, though, probably remember many first days of school for their kids - especially the most recent ones.
I remember when I was heading into the seventh grade my family had just moved to Mancelona, where my dad was the new superintendent. We moved into a neighborhood with a number of kids our ages so I already new kids who I'd be in school with. But the first day when I got to the school - a building much bigger than the one we had left in Caseville and maybe a little imposing - two boys came up to me and introduced themselves. They were my age and their dads were teachers. Jeff Hines became a friend and teammate throughout school, but Mike Ebert's family moved after eighth grade.
The other day I remember was in Caseville when I was in elementary school. I don't recall the year, but my family had moved just north of town and I had to ride the bus for the first time after having lived in town when we first moved to Caseville. The first day of school that year I waited for the bus, which stopped as it headed north on the highway to pick up more students. After that day, however, I was able to watch the bus go by and have it pick me up on the way back toward town and the school. I'm not sure, but I might have been the last kid picked up before school.
I don't think the first day of school is a landmark day we remember as the years go by, the events that happen during the school year are the ones we remember. It's different for parents, I'm sure, but those kinds of landmark events parents find a way to document with photos, etc.
Thinking back to school - way back when and getting farther away - I think I'm kind of lucky. I have two distinct time periods to recall. My elementary school years were spent in Caseville and the rest was in Mancelona. It's almost as if I had a clean break after elementary school.
Even in Mancelona, while the junior high and high school were in the same building (and portable classrooms) there was a break because when I was in the eighth grade the school had to have split sessions with the high school in the morning and the junior high in the afternoon due to enrollment. There was an overlap with all the students, but it was only for a couple of hours in the middle of the day.
The first day of school doesn't provide much of a memory for me, but I remember plenty from my school days- like everyone does. School is more than a place we go to learn - much of which we forget (how many times have you either experienced or heard someone say they had a hard time helping their kids with homework). It shapes our lives. We find friends, we explore, we learn, we develop skills we will use all our lives even if we don't continue our education. The reading, writing and arithmetic are just the base, everything else is just as important.
Next week marks the beginning of school for area students. They'll file into their classrooms, fill with hope, excitement and expectations. The younger they are the more excitement they have; age tends to make older students a bit jaded (and how sad to be jaded as a teenager).
Silently, or maybe not so silently, parents will be breathing a sigh of relief as the kids head back to school. Hopefully they take a minute to remember the first day and smile. Or better yet, document it in some way.