Two words that, by themselves, with no explanation, allow the mind to run free with speculation.
“Hmm, what’s he thinking? Is he leaving? Is this a farewell column?”
Let me put you at ease (or disappoint you, as the case may be). I am not leaving, this is not a farewell column on my part. But, it is a farewell column – a farewell to the summer vacation of countless school-age youth in the area.
There’s no denying it, the start of school is at hand, and between the groans of disappointment of the kids and the collective sighs of relief from parents, one could almost lose their hearing.
In all reality, nothing really changes from year to year when the first day of school rolls around. There are kids who are up early, ready and rarin’ to go, anxious to see classmates they haven’t seen over the summer and make new friends and acquaintances.
There are also kids who will literally have to be pulled out of bed and forcefully marched out the door and gently(?) helped aboard the school bus on the first day. (OK, maybe not THAT?extreme…)
In all honesty, at this time of year, I start getting the itch, so to speak, to get back into my routine here at the newspapers, covering sports and interacting with the various coaches throughout the county during their respective seasons. Growing up in Palo Alto County, I have memories of my school days, and yes, we had pencils and paper, not charcoal and slates.
I recall the first day of school as a youth, walking into new classrooms, seeing old friends, trying to figure out who the new kids were, and meeting new teachers for the first time. It should go without saying that my class was known throughout school as “that class” but I’ve been assured over the years that other classes came through and assumed that dubious title.
Anyhow, with the first day of school in the area coming up this week, it’s time that all of us get back into that mode.
Specifically, everyone needs to re-activate our common sense when driving in our communities, especially around our schools. First and foremost, pay attention! Speed limits near schools are posted for safety, not for the motoring public’s inconvenience.
Pedestrian safety is foremost around schools. Sometimes, younger children forget the simple rule of “look both ways” before crossing a street, or don’t cross in marked crosswalks. Iowa law specifically states pedestrians have the right-of-way, and traffic must yield.
We also need to be attentive to bicycles and mopeds on our streets as well. While they are expected to also obey all traffic laws, all too often youth on bicycles may forget to observe stop signs, or may dart across streets.
As responsible motorists, it behooves us to always be extra alert when driving near schools, especially in the mornings before school starts and in the afternoons when school dismisses.
Also, remember that the yellow school buses that will ply our streets, highways and gravel roads are filled with priceless cargo. The basic rule for motorists is to always obey the flashing red lights and extended stop arm on buses, which are displayed when students are boarding or departing the bus.
There are significant fines for drivers who ignore school bus stop arms and flashing lights, and all law enforcement agencies will issue citations for those violations, which can run over $150.
Yes, it’s time for school to begin and all of us to get back into our school time mode. It’s time for our greatest resource, our young people, to continue to grow in wisdom to be able to achieve great things in their lifetimes. And, it’s time for us to remember to support and nurture our young people and support our educators, school staffers and administrators as they enter into another year of learning.