By Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Editor 2014-07-28 23:08:10
Back-to-Hope Season When I reflect upon my K-12 youth, I remember certain friends, teachers, class projects and events with varying degrees of clarity and haze. But I tend to feel most nostalgic about the 13-year succession of back-to-school seasons. The first day of the school year was always the day after Labor Day, and the anticipation began to ramp up around the third week of August. Waiting in impatient anxiety for the official schedule or teacher/class assignment to arrive in the mail—would it be the beloved Mrs. Kenney or the dreaded Mrs. Yates? (The characterizations made by older kids in the neighborhood were absolute— but often turned out completely wrong). Spending a ridiculous amount of time deciding on the “perfect” binder, with a beautiful cover and organizational tools that would help ensure I got straight As. Trips to the department store with Mom to select brandspanking- new autumn outfits. The first-day pictures in the backyard. Locating the locker, the classroom, the desk. Cutting up brown-paper grocery bags to create text book covers, ready for my personalized marker artwork (such as it was). The wondrous newness of it all, before things settled into a routine. Sure, there was some apprehension (especially about bullies on the bus or all my friends being scheduled in the “other” track). But overall, those weeks from late August to early October were a period of hopeful expectation and the promise of a fresh start, as much the “new year” of resolutions and possibilities as January 1. After 20 years at SNA, I recognize that back-to-school season for School Nutrition readers isn’t necessarily tinged with the same nostalgia, and typically it’s a time of high anxiety and stress. This year, with a number of new regulatory requirements to incorporate, and a more-savage-than-usual media, there are sure to be challenges to overcome. Still, I believe that this can be a magical time for you, as well as for the youngsters streaming into your cafeterias now and in the coming weeks. When you head to work for your first day back to school, sit in your car for a few moments before rushing inside. Take a deep breath. Think back upon what you recollect of your own school days or those of your children. Smile. Try to recapture a sense of that positive anticipation of the new year ahead. There will be bumps in the road, but there will be laughter, light-bulb moments of creativity, triumph over adversity and thank-yous a-plenty. Have faith that you can make this year the best one yet—for you and for the kids you serve. Welcome back to school, everyone!
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