EDITORIAL:Â Thoughts on a new school year
Summer isn’t officially over until Sept. 21, but as far as students who are returning to school this week and next are concerned, it’s pretty much history. Freeman Public and Menno began their 2021-22 term on Wendesday and Freeman Academy will start on Aug. 25.
A new school year always presents both challenges and opportunities, and also some anxiety for both parents and children. Will the students apply themselves? Will they fit in? Will they be good friends? How will they manage their time? How won’t they manage their time?
And, especially with an increase in Covid-19 cases, everything that happened last school year and ongoing concerns about the Delta variant, there are lingering questions about health and safety.
Here are a few thoughts about the new school year to consider.
Talk about it
An open line of communication between parents and children is always a good idea, but this is particularly critical when it comes to school. Let’s face it: growing up is tough. There is school work to sort through, friendships to figure out and changing hormones that can make for rocky waters. Oftentimes we just expect kids to deal with it all as it comes because — well — we did. But who knows what questions and/or concerns they may have and what kind of toll it is all taking on their mental health. They may not want to talk about it, but parents need to at least be available for a conversation, and let their kids know that they are.
It’s back to school as “normal” — at least for now — which means parents and students will have to be mindful of health. Covid-19 is still a thing and it’s still causing problems. Since there are no longer temperature checks at the door, and since masks don’t appear to be part of the equation, individuals will have to be mindful about any onset of symptoms or illness that arises, and act accordingly. In other words, if you’re sick, stay home. That may be a “no duh” point of emphasis, but in these times, it needs to be said.
Too often, teachers are quick targets when students are struggling with schoolwork or children complain about something that is going on in a classroom. It’s easy to fire off an angry email, text, or make an unreasonable phone call after getting worked up about something. But it’s also critically important to remember that the teachers in the classrooms are doing their best with every child’s education front of mind, and that they are responding to a myriad of situations that may come up with the best information they have — the best way they know how. Remember, there are two sides to every story, and there’s a pretty good chance that a little context and understanding could go a long way toward resolution. In other words, don’t be mean. Instead, be mindful and show some respect toward the leaders in our school who have our kids’ best interest in mind.
This is a big one. The world is full of conflict, anger, violence and hurt feelings, and so much of that stems from people who are — simply put — not very kind. If our children can learn to be the nice kid, and that becomes contagious, think about how much better an environment our schools will become. Smile. Say hello. Hold the door open for somebody. At lunch, sit next to the kid who is alone. Offer to help somebody who is struggling. Watch your mouth. Temper your tone. Be the kid who other people want to be around, and not because of what you wear or what kind of car you drive, but because of how you are. That goes for the adults, too.
Summer days remain, but clearly a new season is here. Who knows what kind of challenges are to come, and who knows what opportunities may arise? If we can all just do our best — if we can all just talk to each other, listen to each other, show respect and be kind — then the fall and winter to come won’t feel so cold.
Good luck to all the students, teachers, staff, administration and parents out there as a new school year gets rolling. You’ve got this.
Jeremy Waltner | Editor & Publisher