The buses are running again, pictures of kids on their first day of school are showing up en masse on Facebook, and the school supply aisle at Walmart is severely diminished. We loved the freedom of summer, but it was always good to find something else to do besides fill jars with tomatoes and freeze multiple plastic quart containers with blackberries. Read on for my Reflection from waaaaay back …
I’m in fourth grade, and have all my new supplies in my book bag. Fresh notebook paper (wide ruled of course), finely sharpened Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils, a wooden ruler, a protractor (which some smart kid told me you use to measure angles but I just used the top part to create rainbows and colored them in with my new crayons). I had a more than ample supply of brown paper bags to wrap all my books in, since my parents patronized the local Kroger store on a weekly basis and my mother saved each and every bag. The new crayons got a workout decorating those covers. Some kids got that thingy with the sharp point and tiny pencil but damn if I could figure out what that was for either.
I had the same nun for my teacher in second, seventh and eighth grade. Our Catholic school was a startup and teachers were in short supply. I only remember two nuns—Sister Aimee (who doubled as the principal) and Sister Joachim. Sister Joachim was young and sweet. Sister Aimee—not so much. She was a wizened old thing with very little tolerance. The highlight of grade school was when Mr. Chovan appeared on the scene and became my sixth grade teacher. He was handsome and took a new approach to teaching. We all had super crushes on him, and our hopes were dashed when he married Mary Ellen Parada’s sister. Obviously, I still hold a grudge.
Highlighters were not yet invented, but you could underline things in pencil. At the end of the year, we used our pink square erasers to clean up the books for next year’s students, page by page.
We said the Pledge of Allegiance every day and I think we threw some Hail Mary’s in there for good measure. We were assigned seats alphabetically and depending on how many kids last names started with A, B or C, the D’arco kid (me) could and usually did end up in the first row.
I guess I should be proud that I was in the first graduating class of St. Ambrose. Unfortunately, the nuns were so focused on religion that most of us fell behind in the other subjects, which made ninth grade in the public school a nightmare. But that’s a story for another time. I had plenty of male teachers there, but none got my hormones in an uproar like Mr. Chovan. I hope he and Mrs. Chovan are happy.