I have never felt much excitement over New Year’s Day. It does not feel like a beginning coming in the heart of the dreary winter weather, especially after the joy of the holiday season. There is nothing special to look forward to in January – just more snow and cold that will stretch on for months. Holidays too are few and far between at the start of the calendar year.
For me, the fall and the beginning of a new school year mark a fresh start. Although the leaves are turning and summer’s warmth is fading, there is a freshness in the air and a sense of life returning to its regular order.
I vividly remember the childhood ritual of purchasing school supplies each September. Each item was carefully checked off the list, including long, yellow pencils to be sharpened to a point and notebooks and folders in a rainbow of colors – all carefully labeled and ready for notes and papers.
Then came the first day of school. Greeting friends who had been away during the summer and entering a new classroom with bright posters on the wall that gave hints of mysteries soon to be revealed. I always felt much older and grown up than I did last spring. My birthday occurs in the fall, which perhaps increased my feeling of a new year beginning. Even as an adult that sense of excitement returns each fall.
These days I spend August getting my four children ready for the start of school. My oldest is a junior and already itching to head off to college. (I’m not quite ready for that new beginning yet.) My other three are entering new schools this year with all the trepidation and anticipation that comes along with that.
After a long summer they are eager to see friends and even learn new things, although they may not admit this. Too soon homework and tests will drag on their enthusiasm but right now their energy is high and they are excited to see what new classes and teachers will bring.
As we meet their teachers during these first days of school, it is apparent that they too are fresh and energetic. By the final days of each school year, they look just as tired and worn out as students. After summer break they return rejuvenated and filled with ideas and inspiration. They seem eager to greet the smiling new faces entering their classrooms, and I hope they remember what brought them to a career in teaching in the first place.
For band and orchestra directors each new crop of students brings great potential and the opportunity to introduce them to the treasures of music literature. (Make a resolution to remember this feeling when you are stuck rehearsing the same section for the umpteenth time, two days before the concert.)
Fifth graders will play their first notes on shiny new instruments and proudly play “London Bridge” or “Hot Cross Buns” for the winter concert. Many will not last beyond the first year, but others will be inspired and develop a love of music. For those who persevere the rewards are many.
Ann Rohner Callis