They come with eager faces, and new clothes. They come with nervous almost-teary eyes, and shiny full backpacks. They come with smiles and hugs for their friends. The floors shine like mirrors. The paint is fresh, the rooms are colorful with new paper and themed posters. Teachers look rested after a long summer break, but frazzled, because the kids come whether you are ready or not. The bell rings and the noise level rises as a new school year kicks off. It’s the first day of school and there are as many reactions as there are kids.
My fifth graders are the pros. They are the seniors of our school. They come down the hall with confidence, high fiving one another and picking up as if summer never happened. They turn onto their hall and they know they have arrived…the first day of their last year before middle school. Their smiles radiate.
My fourth graders come in with their heads held high, but they are more tentative than the fifth graders. Glad to be off the third grade hall, they file into their classrooms with a mixture of relief and fear. Knowing that this year will be harder than last, they come in quietly unsure of the new teacher’s expectations. They warm up quickly, however, and soon are right at home.
My little third graders are transitioning from the primary school, and they come hesitantly, with back packs that are as big as they are. Everything is new to them and you can feel the nerves. Some appear to want to cry. Some look lost in these big hallways. Some walk right in as if they have known this place before. At some point in the day they have to take the tour so they will not wander around lost. They sit and take in an enormous amount of information about procedures which leaves them a bit like deer in headlights. It will take them a while to make this adjustment.
No matter what grade level, there is one thing that is the same for nearly every student. It is my favorite thing about the new school year…school supplies. I know that I am a teacher, so I have an unusual attachment to fresh paper, folders, and glue sticks. But teachers are not the only ones who love to open a box of unused crayons. The kids LOVE it. They come in and the first thing they want to do is show everyone their supplies….what their boxes look like, how many pencils they have, their markers that have fragrance. Any and every thing is new and exciting. They pull out their packs of loose leaf paper and hold them up for everyone to see. They do not seem to notice that literally everyone else has the same packs of paper they do. The pocket folders are in every color of the rainbow. The handles on the scissors match. There are erasers of all types, and colored pencils of every color. There are plain yellow number 2 pencils, and pencils with fancy designs on them. Towers of tissue boxes, and rows of hand sanitizer. It is enough to make a teacher jump for joy.
The kids are so enthusiastic they just have to show you their stuff. They cannot wait to put it up where it goes and no matter how many times you say, “Just hold on to your supplies at your desk for now.” They cannot sit until they have showed you their stash. Some teachers just get it over with and stop for show and tell. Others put all the supplies on one table so everyone can see them. Some tell the kids just to put them inside of their desks. For me, all these new supplies make me want to create something. Sitting and looking at blank paper sparks ideas for writing. And to use an untouched crayon brings a thrill that I cannot describe. All of these supplies speak a message…fresh start, clean slate, everything is new! Excitement is tangible, and hope is hanging in the air. It’s the first day of school and it is filled with potential. That is what school supplies represent…the potential and hope of a new year. Happy First Day everybody! Welcome back!