First-day excitement is contagious

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, August 21, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Call the roll.” This is my interior mantra between classes. I’m so excited to see my students that sometimes, I forget to submit attendance—especially on the first day of school.

Sixth period, I submit attendance and walk towards the door speaking, “I am Mrs. Nolen. You’re in Literary Magazine and I hope that you’re as excited to be here as I am to have you.”

Unexpectedly, a huge cheer goes up and the students are all clapping and whistling. As I reach for the door, Lee Short, my neighbor teacher, is in the hall, alarmed by the shrieking.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

“Lit Mag,” I respond, with a smile.

“That explains it!” Short says.

Last year, Literary Magazine class shared a tough time slot with many singleton classes (classes only offered one period). As a result, several staffers were not in the actual Lit Mag class. Those unable to be in the Lit Mag class period were consoled by being in my skinny group or came to morning or afternoon meetings.

“I want to be in the REAL class,” students said. I understood.

The interplay of ideas, the passionate discussions, ideas that blossom into magazine structures, or covers, or poems, or designs, or marketing strategies for Write Night—those insightful events require a class period. Students learn as much from each other as they do from me—and I learn from the students.

Lit Mag was the only class that broke into applause, but my other classes were all just as delightful with student responses that created classrooms full of laughter and student attentiveness that revealed all the promise and hope of new beginnings and having renewed confidence to learn and succeed.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall,” is a line from Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” For students and teachers, the first day of school is that “crisp” moment.

Once the students arrive, happiness prevails. The days without them are torture. Life starts now. Crisp begins now—every single year.