The back to school countdown

What is it about this time of year that makes me want to go out and buy school supplies and a whole new wardrobe? Thatís just a rhetorical question; I know what exactly is that triggers this impulse. Itís that back to school buzz.

Even though my school days are long behind me, I still get that itch. This year, itís even worse. For the last two weeks, Iíve been talking with teachers and administrators from our local school districts as I prepare to write ĎBack to Schoolí stories for each of them. There is no denying the excitement in the air at each of the buildings Iíve visited, as everyone gears up for the students to return. It seems like everywhere you look there are new programs, new course offerings and a sprinkle of new staff members. The custodial and janitorial staffs have been buffing and polishing, so even the buildings look shiny and new.

(The exception being Greene, of course, where the custodians are waiting patiently for the construction debris to be cleared so they can start their buffing and polishing. Donít worry kids, Iíve been assured that hard hats wonít be required on the first day.)

With the excitement, though, comes the bittersweet knowledge that the last few days of summer are about to slip through your fingers. Fall is just around the corner, with winter not far behind.

Luckily, there is all that back to school shopping to take your mind off it. For some, it the thrill was in having an excuse to get new clothes. For me, it was all about the school supplies. This was in the days long before teachers provided a list of necessary supplies, so we had to figure out for ourselves the number of notebooks, binders and accessories we would need. I remember when Trapper Keepers were all the rage, and celebrated when I hit the grade level where college ruled paper was acceptable. I never liked wide rule.

Then there was the careful selection of folders which needed, in my opinion, to be color coded with each notebook. Next, the ďchoreĒ of picking the perfect mix of pens, pencils, erasers and the like. Ahhh, those were the days.

In younger grades, there was also the all-important lunch box selection. My favorite were the metal variety. I vividly remember having what would now be considered a vintage Strawberry Shortcake lunch pail. One of my friends had an Emergency Squad one, which I coveted for years. (I used to love that show!) Lunch boxes lost all of their appeal to me when plastic became the norm. Thatís probably when I started brown-bagging it.

It always seemed like it took forever for the school newsletter to arrive, and I was so anxious to see who my teacher would be for the new year and which of my friends would be in my class. Bus routes would be in there as well, although realistically, I knew Iíd be getting on the bus that pulled up in front of my house on the first day with my favorite bus driver of all time, CeCe Yerton, behind the wheel. She was the one who always drove the Tyner route, and I was in absolute awe of her (and her pierced nose).

Once all the school supplies were purchased, and my new school clothes were put away, there would be nothing left to do but wait for the first day.

The night before that long-awaited day, Iíd carefully lay out my first-day-of-school clothes and pack my backpack with all my new school supplies so Iíd be all ready to go. Of course, Iíd be so excited that I could barely sleep. Kind of like Christmas.

Yep. Iím a geek. (And proud of it, I might add.)

As I start to write up all these ĎBack to Schoolí stories, itís hard not to get caught up in all the excitement of a new beginning.

Iíll just have to content myself with living vicariously through the thousands of students who will be heading back to school in Chenango County on Sept. 9.

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