The NaBloPoMo prompt for today:
What was your favourite part about returning to school?
That’s not an easy question. It wasn’t cool to acknowledge being happy to return to school each year, of course, so while I was glad, I didn’t really acknowledge it to myself. As a result, it is more difficult to access those memories.
Even though I knew there would be endless amounts of review each year, I was always excited about the possibility of learning something new. After we left Gadsden, I was able to look forward to school library access, too. (The elementary school I attended in Alabama didn’t even have a library, and back then, the Gwinnett County Public Library wasn’t the award winning facility that it is now.)
I also had a secret hope that maybe this would be the year when I would meet someone like me. Someone else who didn’t fit in. Someone who preferred books to most people, who either didn’t go to church or was only there because his or her parents forced the issue, who would be willing to discuss the questions brought up by all the contradictions in the Bible and various church’s teachings (and how preachers and other church leaders actually lived). Someone who didn’t think it was bad to be intelligent, maybe even someone who would admit to daydreaming and making up new stories about people they’d read about, or completely new stories of their own. The kind of people you didn’t run into just because your parents bought houses in the same neighborhood, or went to the same church, or worked for the same company.
I did meet someone who became a dear friend in the first week of my Junior year, on the bus, in fact. She even lived in my neighborhood! I continue to be amazed by the fact that I said something to her first, as she’s far more extroverted than I have ever been. Dorothea is a treasure, and I will always be thankful for meeting her.
The NaBloPoMo prompt for today:
How did you feel about the start of the school year growing up?
As far as I remember, I was usually excited—at least after 7th grade or so. School up to that point was so intensely boring that I couldn’t wait to get out of it so I could go back to whatever I was reading or doing in the woods somewhere. I hated second grade so much that I think I spent most of it napping in the school clinic (we had one with several little alcoves and beds. I think I may have been having migraines, honestly).
Up until 7th grade, it seemed that the first half of every year was spent reviewing what was done the previous year because so many people didn’t really learn it or forgot everything during the summer. I kept thinking, “I’m here why? They could just tell the rest of us when the review is over. I’m wasting my life here!” I think it’s telling that I spent much of the 4th and 5th grades acting as an unofficial substitute teacher and didn’t miss a bloody thing by not being in my own class.
In 7th grade we finally started doing more serious academic work. That’s the first year that I recall any science content that could actually be called science, since we had lab assignments. Before that we had little texts about animals and geology and the planets, but it was all so elementary that it might as well have been a stack of Little Golden Books. The only difference was that we had little vocabulary tests and the occasional find-a-word puzzle related to the content. (Dear elementary teachers: You’re doing it wrong, or you certainly were in the 70’s! I learned a lot more by reading through the public library and messing around with the microscope and lab kits I got for Christmas one year. Although I think maybe the lab kit was meant for my sister and she didn’t want it, so I ended up with it.)
I also had my first truly outstanding teacher that year, Ms. Keifer. I think her first name might have been Karole Ann, but I’m not sure. In any case, she taught English at Lilburn Middle School, and I was in her homeroom. She was wonderful! She gave me a copy of Lord of the Rings, with one caveat: I had to pass them on to someone else when I finished them.
Back then, the Braves gave out free tickets to Atlanta area students who made straight A’s. I won tickets several years in a row, as I recall. I didn’t honestly care to go, but it was a family obligation thing, so I did — with whichever volume of LOTR I was reading at the moment in hand. Daddy had a great laugh when we encountered another family sitting near us whose son had won tickets. Their son had his nose in another volume of LOTR!
It definitely helped that my cousin, Lori Goss, taught me how to put on makeup during a visit back home to Gadsden that year, which boosted my confidence a lot. I don’t remember if her big sister Kim cut my hair into “wings” or how that happened (I do remember the perm Aunt Bet gave me, which was my first).