I recently joined a Facebook alumni group for my grade school back home in West Virginia. I’m not a very enthusiastic alumnus of any of the other schools I attended, but I was excited to see pictures and share memories of those early years.
I LOVED elementary school. I went along the day Mom took my older brother for his first day and cried when she pried me out of a desk to take me home. Adrian Elementary School sat high on a hill far above the train tracks and probably had wonderful views wasted on the children.
I remember little bins of brightly colored blocks. Learning to write on that brownish paper with pink and blue stripes. Playing duck, duck, goose in the gym. Cloak rooms down the side of the classroom with hooks for each one of us. The smell of stale milk and peanut butter in my lunch box on the bus ride home. School carnivals with coin tosses and cake walks. School programs where it seems I was always the narrator . . .
Oh, I could go on and on. I remember the wee library, the Scholastic book sales (the torture of choosing just one), and the bookmobile pulled up outside. Not to mention the bookcase in the back of the room loaded down with age-appropriate biographies of Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, and the like.
And then, among my very favorite things, were those wonderful worksheets. There was a place at the top to write my name followed by blanks just waiting to be filled in with answers. There was something deeply satisfying about a completed worksheet.
Middle school and high school were much harder. The satisfaction of finished worksheets and playing on the merry-go-round at recess were replaced with awkward self-consciousness and a desire to be one of the cool kids.
Maybe this sweet longing to revisit those early days of school has something to do with being north of my fortieth birthday. But, oh, what I wouldn’t give to hunt Easter eggs on the grassy hill above the school (I found the gold egg one year) and then to go back inside and complete a whole stack of worksheets.
Maybe Mrs. Floyd would even draw a smiley face next to my grade.