Random Thoughts about the First Day of School

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)

For the past month there has not been a newspaper, radio station, or television station in this great land of saints and scholars that refrained from employing the cringe-making wheeze, “School is gearing up.”

No, school is not gearing up.  It has never geared up.  It will never gear up,  except maybe in Cousin Les’ auto shop class.  Let us make our first lesson of the Michaelmas term a caution against using tired metaphors.

Adverbs also obscure meaning.  There is no adverb less useful than “actually.”  After all, one cannot “unactually” do something.  And then there is “absolutely,” a useless four-syllable construction meaning “yes.”  Say “yes” to clear usage.

Back-to-school ads feature adorable little kidlets with big grins modelling the cooler-than-cool new shirts and skirts and jeans and sneaks, and maybe a notebook.  The children in school ads never carry, oh, you know, books.  Have you ever seen a b-t-s ad in which the kid was carrying a copy of The Brothers Karamazov or The Road to Magdalena or maybe a Jane Austen?  Nope, and you won’t see those books in the kid’s house, either; a big ol’ television the size of Rhode Island is the usual home altar and cultural center now. Who needs 2,000 years of Christian scholarship, music, and art when everyone can now lapse into a fuzzy-eyed stasis, the Lot’s-wife-as-a-pillar-of-salt thing, in front of the latest episode of Flip This Dancing House Cooking Show off the Island of Machine Gun Fire and Dead Bodies?

Is there a Texas Education Agency rule that school administrators must shave their heads and grow odd tufts of hair on their chins?

Dress codes and professional demeanor are issues that really annoy principals: slovenly clothes, weird hair, gang signs, flip-flops, tattoos, cartoon tee shirts, tardiness, inappropriate language – and that’s the faculty; the kids tend to do better.

Just a joke, guys, just a joke.

Did you know that algebra is now taught in junior high middle school? 

Algebra is not in the Bible, though. Jesus never said, “Solve for X.” Tell Mr. Romano that.

Mr. Randolph is an expert in band shoes.

Parents, do you know that your daughter can learn to weld in high school? 

Do you know that your son can escape the microwave bubble and learn real cookery in high school?

Kids, do you know that Julius Caesar and Macbeth are about American politics and layered with Christian teachings about right and wrong?

Shakespeare is great fun, but English teachers are borrrrrrrrrrrring.

When I was in school, back when wearing a mask was for The Lone Ranger, we kids learned about telling time by using construction paper and brads and crayons to construct a clock face on a paper plate.  I suppose now children print out a picture of a Fit-Bit and hot-glue it to a take-out pizza box. 

But buses are still yellow (and their wheels still go ‘round and ‘round), new pencils (especially cedar, if you can find them) smell like your own childhood, the first day of school is exciting, 6th-grade band concerts are painful to the ear but symphonic to the soul, new clothes are nice, the first look at amoebae through a microscope is to visit a new world, sophomores should be fitted with tracking devices, the only real football is school football, your friendly librarian will help you find the information you need, Robert Frost makes more sense than Congress, seniors pretty much rule the universe, and voting in a school board election remains a lonely experience.

The past few years have been rough in spots, and you have had to power through them. I hope and pray that this year the good old magic of back-to-school will stay with you through next May.

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