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Back to School

A dozen kids add the now to our then

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear … Memory does see the past through rose-colored glasses. Looking down all the years to my own school days, I remember anticipation as it shivered through me before school started.
    School is much more exciting in these days than in mine. Rote learning, regimentation, overcrowded classrooms, overworked nuns and bullies took much of the fun out of my school days. Husband and I challenge each other for the best miserable memories, me of my Catholic and he of his Lutheran school days.
    Did my kids have a better time in schools of the 1970s and ’80s? I’m not so sure. They had more diversity, schooling in Illinois; Texas; New Mexico; California and Maryland. Alex found inspiration, but Nat fought to be free every day of every year.
    Grandparents’ Days at a range of Anne Arundel schools have shown me much more entertaining and challenging classrooms than any I entered as a student. The art in the halls is museum grade, and fourth and fifth graders are learning about concepts, like Venn diagrams, I didn’t encounter until college. Teachers are often young and attractive and even more friendly and compassionate.
    It looks great — yet grandson Jack has fought many grades with the same rebel spirit his uncle showed.
    What’s it like for kids going back to school this month?
    Thus began our feature, Farewell Summer, Hello School.
    Every grade has its own story, and every kid’s experience is unique. We’d never hear every experience, even with a force of a dozen writers spreading out through Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties. But we could manage every grade, which gave us the splendid numerology of 13 back-to-schoolers speaking up for the 2013 school year.
    As well as grade and geographic diversity, we sought diversity of race and type of school in hopes of mirroring the complexity of our 21st century communities. We’ve talked to kids of African, Chinese and Latin — as well as European — ethnicity, some new fluent speakers of English.
    Our 12 are students in traditional public schools, high-tuition private schools, a magnet school, alternative school and career center. Our ringer — 43-year-old Jon Boughey — teaches special education.
    You’ve seen the kids (and Jon) on the cover.
    Despite bullies and tough classes, these young faces are bright with anticipation. Kids return to school eager to see friends, eager for challenge, and so eager to grasp knowledge and opportunity some might even eat a bug.

Supply a Student for School
    Summer staffer Maggie Stamets (beginning her sophomore year at Hofstra University in New York) agrees that a good school year begins with fresh school supplies. Not every family can afford to outfit its kids with a backpack full of school supplies, she learned in reporting for this issue on how Calvert and Anne Arundel Counties work to fill the gap.
    Her story is so compelling that she and I couldn’t help but get into it. We wanted to do the full backpack, so Maggie signed us up with Anne Arundel Social Service volunteer coordinator Tanya Steele (410-269-4462).
    We asked for a young back-to-schooler. Steele wrote back in minutes with the name and needs of a first grader at Eastport Elementary.
    Maggie will choose a character backpack tonight and fill it markers, pencils, highlighter, pink erasers, blunt-tipped scissors, tissues, hand sanitizer, Post-it notes, glue sticks and more. We’ll have it delivered before you read about it.
    It’s as easy as that. If we can do it, you can, too.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; [email protected]