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Topic: First Day of School (06/28/04)
TITLE: Second Grade Jitters
By Carol Shaffron
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Here we were! It was the highest and biggest building in our little coal mining town that was about one mile wide and maybe two miles long. You could easily get from one end of town to the other in about half an hour walking, even faster by bike. There were about five cement steps up to a cement platform and then five more before you got to the huge double wooden doors that swallowed you when you stepped inside. Red bricks comprised the walls that housed students grades one through eight on the lower levels and nine through twelve "upstairs". Inside was an auditorium/gymnasium with a stage where would be actors and actresses performed for family and friends in a couple of yearly school talent pagents.
The next seven school seasons of my young and very naieve life would be spent here at St. Mary's Parochial School. All of us students were finally seated in desks in the classroom when Sister asked the "new" students to line up along the blackboard on the side of the classroom. Well, I was a new student, so I joined the lineup along the blackboard. Then, she called for all of the second grade students to line up along the blackboard at the front of the room. Uhmmm. . . I was in second grade so I slowly walked over to join the other row of kids along the blackboard in front of the room while I nervously looked around the room. We were assigned desks alphabetically and sat down as our names were called. First, second and third grades made up the room of about eighteen. Everyone seemed eager to get started on a fresh year of socializing.
Later on that morning, out on the playground at recess, one of the other students came up to me and very authoritatively said, "You're new; you have to start in first grade." I honestly don't remember my response or if I responded at all, but for the rest of the year and the next three, I was avoided like the plague.
The best thing that grew out of that horrible experience was that I learned to champion the underdog and befriend the outcast. I have since led the way to acceptance for those who were in one way or another shunned. And today, I can honestly say, I am glad for the experience of my first day in a new school.