Visiting Hamilton, Ala., a couple of Saturdays ago, I made it a point to ride by my old school.
I try to do it at least two or three times a year.
I started first grade there, and I never left the general vicinity for the next 12 years. The high school was adjacent, grades one through six in one building and seven through 12 in another.
Our school days help shape us.
I remember my toughest teachers – the ones who made me work harder.
Before entering the high school years, I recall being warned about certain teachers.
“So-and-so is mean. Try not to get in that class.”
Come to find out, it wasn’t that bad.
I wasn’t fond of history and algebra. But I had good grades in those classes, too. My mother expected good grades, even while I was out late at night playing basketball games.
I remember my coaches – the ones who pushed me and then pushed me some more.
I got very tired of them at times, but when I left Hamilton High School, I grew to admire them more and more.
We had paddlings back then. I recall getting a couple.
We had typewriters. I’m sure my children have never heard of correction tape.
There were no computers.
And we did not use calculators in math class.
I have the fondest memories of my school days – the teachers, the coaches, my classmates and my friends.
But I remember in about the 10th grade wishing I could hurry up and graduate. I thought the next three years would take forever.
Today, I wouldn’t want to go back. But I do wish I would have cherished those days more.
School starts this week for about all the area schools. My youngest daughter is entering her 11th grade year. She’s getting some type of mail from a college about every day.
I realize she has to start thinking about that next stage of her life. We’ve already talked about visiting some colleges during the 2018-2019 year.
But most of all, I try to stress to her how much she needs to enjoy her final two years of high school.
I’ve always encouraged her, like my mother did me, to do well in the classroom but also participate in extracurricular activities.
An education goes far beyond the classroom.
One of my favorite experiences in high school was being editor of my high school newspaper. It perhaps had the biggest role in pointing me on my career path.
But of similar importance were business and office education classes and participation in things like the parliamentary procedure team.
We practiced and practiced and practiced and then went to Montgomery, Ala., where we were judged on public speaking skills, debate, proper use of parliamentary procedure, and parliamentary procedure knowledge. I’d never experienced anything so challenging.
Here’s hoping for terrific school years for our young people in Marshall County – from kindergarten through the 12 grade and college, too.
Listen to your teachers. Work hard. Learn. Strive to get better. And perhaps most of all, enjoy these years.