There are at least 180 days in each school year, but there is nothing like the first day.

          Subsequent weeks and months blur into a continuum of classrooms and blackboards and bookbags and homework.  The hum-drum comes in a hurry, but not until after the momentous inaugural day of each school year.

          As summer vacation languishes in the waning days of August, most kids will admit to a strong sense of anticipation associated with the first day back to school.  It's the one dawning they plan for.

          Careful thought is given to clothes for this debut.  As teachers say, one never gets a second chance to make a good first impression, especially if one's target might be that new boy or girl who moved in over the summer.

          The alarm clock hasn't 

buzzed for many weeks, but it's dutifully set the night before this big day.  If you are heading back to school, it's not so much the joy of learning that inspires you.  It's the intrigue of the unknown and the quest for answers to questions that will have a profound impact upon your lifestyle for the next nine months.

          Has the school bus route changed?  Will you be picked up early or late?  Will you ride for five minutes or 45?  Will you have friends on the bus?  Who will you sit with?

          Will you remember your locker combination?  Whose locker will be next to yours?  Will you be able to find your classrooms without having to resort to asking a teacher or (heaven forbid) an older student?

          Crucial questions involve your new teachers.  They can "make or break" your whole existence.  Will you be getting a "famous" teacher?  This is good or bad, depending on what the teacher is famous for--friendliness or fiendishness.

          Will you be stuck with a teacher notorious for strict discipline?  Will you suffer the fate of getting someone who had your mom or dad in class?  (This instant rapport between teacher and parents puts you at an immediate disadvantage.)

          Perhaps you will draw a new teacher.  Author Steven Hellebrand calls this a "wet behind the ears, appeared from nowhere teacher."  If this is the case, some quick sizing-up will be in order.  Everything you have ever learned about teachers will come into play as you determine how much or how little you can get away with.

          A teacher's opening remarks can serve as a barometer of what the weather might be like all year.  If there's a slight smile and a glimmer in the eye with a flicker of excitement in her voice about the coming year, the forecast is good.  If the teacher opens the year with, "Sit down and shut up,"  there are some clouds on the horizon.

          As the teacher situation is being assessed, the all-important questions regarding lunch arise.  First of all, what time do you eat?  Will you join the brunch crunch at 10:15 or the late-to-lunch bunch at 11:45?  Will your best friends be eating at the same time?  Will you be eating with strangers or nerds or (horrors!) at a table by yourself?

          What about friends?  Will you still like the one you had last spring?  More importantly,  will they still like you?  Things change over summer vacation.  Some kids grow an inch or two.  Some develop new personalities.  Some move away.

          Fear, joy, dread, and expectation blend with new blue jeans, fresh-waxed hallways, long yellow pencils, and the crisp crack of new books being opened for the first time.  All in all, there's nothing quite like the first day back in school.





There is nothing quite like

The First Day of School