HAMBURG — Those of us who have a daily habit of rolling out of our beds at the first sound of the alarm, jumping into the shower, making ourselves look presentable and then heading off to work might not have noticed the monumental shift that occurred this week, but I am sure that millions of young people all over America did.
When 6 a.m. rolled around on Tuesday, Sept. 3, Hamburg and Lake Shore students were sleepily huddled at the ends of their driveways instead of curled up, sound asleep, in their warm beds.
Smiling kids from the Frontier and Eden districts may have given a passing thought to their local counterparts, as they made the most of their last day of summer freedom, but their first day of school was not long in coming. They wolfed down breakfast, grabbed brand-new backpacks and textbooks and raced out the door at the crack of dawn on Sept. 4.
Some of the kids probably felt that the dark dampness of the sky mirrored their feelings about leaving the summer behind, to put their noses back to the grindstone.
But the majority of students I talked to this week were excited about going back to school. Maybe they were looking forward to seeing their friends or playing sports. Or maybe they were sincerely excited about learning. Whatever the case may be, they hopped on the big, yellow buses with more fervor than I would have shown.
These four local schools joined those from all over our coverage area and the rest of Western New York in officially welcoming new and returning students to their halls and formally kicking off the 2013 – 2014 school year.
“I like school, but my coach was kinda mean,” one young elementary school student confessed, after returning home from her first day at school. “I don’t care that summer is over; I missed hanging out with all of my friends,” said a middle school student, as he adjusted the strap on his backpack.
Those of us who are not teachers and no longer attend school full time may not have had our schedules affected by the first day of school, but the sight of buses’ lumbering down the street again, mixed with the chill in the air and the leaves’ falling from the trees, still makes us pause to say goodbye to summertime.
I can still remember what it was like to open my eyes and remember that I was going back to school, today. It was much easier for me to bound out of bed, then. Bright, happy-looking, new-book-smelling texts sat on a pile on the kitchen table, full of stories and facts I had yet to learn.
This school year is still a clean slate. No mistakes have been made and no fights have been picked. No tests have been failed and no lines have been crossed.
I hope that this is the year in which many students step out of the box, push themselves and become the best that they can be.
In some ways, I envy all of those local youngsters who raced down the driveways to the school buses, because their lives are just beginning; their paths have not yet been set and their potential is just now exhibiting itself.
But, then again, I did my time; I took my quizzes, moaned over my tests and agonized over my research papers. I stepped across that platform and received my diploma and came out the other side, thankful that those years of education were finally behind me.
And today is another step in Western New York students’ journey toward that same end. Another first day of school is over.
Good luck to all of our local students. May they enjoy a fulfilling and productive 2013 – 2014 school year.