First Day of School

First Day of School

For millions of kids around the country, September traditionally marks the end of one of the most beloved traditions of childhood, summer vacation, and begins a new year – with new teachers, new desks, new lockers, and perhaps even new friends. It could be invigorating or traumatic, short or long, but there was no mistaking its significance – another year older and soon to be wiser. That’s right, we’re talking about the first day of school.

In preparation for this special day, you first had to engage in another childhood ritual – back-to-school shopping, both for clothing and supplies. Some kids loved this part, others loathed it, and it probably depended on how much choice you had in the matter. If you got to pick out your clothes, you probably enjoyed it. If mom made the fashion choices for you, perhaps not so much. Dressing rooms, anyone? If you were lucky, however, you might just have a shiny new Muppets or Holly Hobbie lunchbox, maybe even a Trapper Keeper or Pee Chee folder to show off to your future friends – proving on day one just how cool you really were.

When the big day arrived, you sat and ate your breakfast, your head swimming with questions. Would your homeroom teacher be someone you could deal with for the next 9 months? Was that math teacher you had been assigned to really as evil as your sibling described, or were they just trying to scare you? Who would you know in your classes? Would your locker be conveniently located, or in some isolated nook of the school, far removed from every single class? And if it was your first day at a new school, there were hundreds of other questions racing through your brain while you ate your Cheerios. If only we all had this friendly advice from Kermit the Frog to see us through:

Of course, all of these questions would be resolved soon enough, and by the end of the day, you usually were assured that everything wouldn’t be as bad as you anticipated. Finding out that a bunch of friends were in one of your classes could make all the difference in the world. And by the end of the year, you might even miss a bunch of new friends that, at the beginning of the school year, you barely even knew. Still, no matter how many times you endured the first day of school in your formative years, each new year brought a shiny new set of jitters.

Over at Sesame Street, here’s a clip of another popular character recounting (sorry) their first day fears:

As we reflect upon this memorable day, we invite you to think back to your own first days of school and share with us what you remember most – your fears and your triumphs and your surprises. Tell us all about the first day of school in our comments section as we pay tribute to these treasured milestones of childhood.

7 Responses to “First Day of School”

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  1. Allie Fox says:

    The smell of new clothes. The pride of the cool lunchbox. The dread of the unknown.

    I was never one to enjoy the first day of school. I looked forward to it like the condemned looks forward to the gas chamber. My mother would walk me to school until fourth grade (my school was actually right behind my house so it didn’t put her out too much).

    The following year I switched schools and started riding the bus. I was absolutely petrified. When I arrived at the new school (the local Catholic School) I was greeted by just about everyone who had gone there the year before. It turned out that I was the spitting image of a kid who had gone there previously and they all thought I was him. Being mistaken for somebody else put me at ease and I handled it rather well ever since.

  2. Kim says:

    I was a geek and luh-HOVED school…but my mother told us her own story every year. On the first morning of kindergarten, in 1951, she set off to walk to school with the other kids, but halfway there tripped, fell, and skinned both knees. She ran home bloodied and sobbing, and wailed to her mom, “See! I TOLD you I would hate it!”

  3. Timothy1964 says:

    The first day of school I most vividly remember is when I started junior high (7th grade) in 1977. What *was* to be the first day of school turned out not to be, because of a “surprise” teachers strike. I was looking forward to my first day of junior high school BIG time that morning! My mom got me up at 6:30 that morning and fixed my breakfast (forgot what I had), then I got dressed and then headed out the door with bookbag filled with new school supplies in hand and walked about 2 1/2 blocks to the bus stop where several other kids were already waiting (most of them smoking cigarettes). The school bus finally pulls up to the stop and the door opens…but before any of us could board, the bus driver says “No school today…the teachers are on strike”. As the other kids celebrated, I walked back home hanging my head and then cried as soon as I walked in the door and my mom consoled me. The strike lasted about a month. Once I started 7th grade, I “fell in love” with that school! Of all my school years, I would say that 7th grade was my most looked forward to first day of school! It’s not common to see a kid go home crying because the first day of school was canceled!!!

  4. Jennifer harris says:

    I loved the first day of school. Meeting new people and seeing who my teacher was.

  5. Chuck says:

    If I had to pick one thing that really stood out on my first day back to school, it would be looking around and seeing how much everyone seemed to change. Of course everyone had brand new clothes and the latest lunchbox. But even in that 2 1/2 months or so we were all on vacation, something changed with everyone, some more than others. That mousey little kid in your sixth grade class? Wow, he was taller than you now! That girl you had vaguely remembered? She really turned into a beauty. The kid with the pipsqueak voice? Now a deep bass.

  6. Gina says:

    I dreaded the first day of school. One year (I think it was 1986), I was on the bus and the Top 40 radio station was on, and the DJ’s decided to tease us by playing what they said we don’t have anymore–“Sweet Freedom”.

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