School daze

Published 8:46 am Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The pencil said “Husky” — and it was. It was big enough in my smallish fingers to resemble a freshly-cut log of oak from the stateliest of trees along St. Charles Avenue.

That oversized pencil, a zipper pouch to put it in, a stapler, one of those mini-brick erasers and an all-khaki getup was what I had on my person that first day of kindergarten in mid-August 1980. And the memories are still fairly sharp.

It was a year away from the comforts of Sesame Street and The Electric Company, arguably the last two children’s TV shows that actually taught you something. For me, the trusty globe I got for Christmas that year took care of geography, so there was no need for Carmen Sandiego. It was a year away from mom and dad and from Nerf ball in the backyard. It was time not for touchdowns but of the mathematical concept of tens and ones.

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What can best be called “separation syndrome” from home was replaced with habits that built an education. When we read from any textbook, students took turns by order of seating. It was here that we found out whose parents read to them at home, as some of my classmates zipped through paragraphs of text while some struggled mightily.

My memory works in sketchy, fuzzy clips when it comes to the social strata of kindergarten. I remember snack time featured chocolate milk when it was still in cardboard containers and graham crackers that seemed larger than the modern-day version. We took naps, too. Common Core? Well, the jury’s still out on that entire program. But, I can tell you the commonality between adults and tykes is that we could use a daily nap, too.

Any parents out there stressing at the office wondering what how the little one is faring in what we’d mispronounce as “kinneygarden” need not fret. As long as you take an interest in your child’s education — and everything else that goes in the classroom, for that matter — you’re doing fine.

This first month is the hardest part. Be there once the bus arrives or your car pulls up and they’ll be thankful later in life.

Danny Barrett is a reporter and can be reached by email at or by phone at 601-636-4545.