Another school year begins this week

Summer vacation ended for teachers last week. This week, it’s back to school for students.

The beginning of a new school year can elicit all sorts of conflicting emotions. Saying goodbye to summer vacation can bring on a case of the blues.

But a new school year opens up a multitude of exciting possibilities. And even many kids have had enough of summer and are ready to get back to work in the classroom.

Some parents will rejoice that their children, bored and whiny during the summer doldrums, finally will be going back to school. Others, notably the parents of children going to school for the first time, are more likely to feel overwhelmed and emotional.

Either way, that first day of school is full of potential. For this single day at least, everyone is a straight-A student.

A number of local businesses, sororities, community organizations and other volunteers joined forces last week to help ensure that all children started school on an equal footing in other respects. Groups gathered school supplies that will be handed out to needy students. Other organizations sponsored fun events that also offered messages about good nutrition, fitness and avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

We hope members of the community will continue to support efforts throughout the year to provide essential school supplies to students who need them. There is no reason a child should have to cope with the disadvantage of not having simple, inexpensive items such as paper, notebooks, pencils, crayons or backpacks.

We also hope parents will seek ways to be directly involved in their children’s schools, whether it’s volunteering for fundraisers, talking to classes or serving as a chaperone on a field trip. Getting involved is a great way to learn what goes on each day in a school and to appreciate what a huge undertaking it is.

Drivers need to be aware of the fact that many children will be walking to school and crossing the street. Also, drivers need to remind themselves that failing to halt for a stopped school bus not only is dangerous, but a potentially costly legal infraction.

Public education is one of the essential American innovations, ingrained in our fundamental democratic way of life. Public education is an essential part of the American dream because it is both the great leveler and the great elevator – providing all with the opportunity to participate and thrive in life while also offering a path to excellence.

It helps to remember that as a new school year begins. We tend to become jaded sometimes about school, which consumes so much of our children’s time and energy, and often presents students and parents alike with frustrations that can cause us to question whether it is all worth it.

Those who have stuck it out will tell you it is. And for now, the beginning of a new year offers the chance to renew our faith in education, to focus on the opportunities it affords us and to do our best to take advantage of this national institution.

Here’s hoping this is a great school year for all.