I spent 18 years in Montana’s school system, from my distant preschool days in Livingston to my recent final college years in Missoula. My love of Montana was born and nurtured during this time, when life revolved around the uncomplicated schedule of school and Big Sky summers. These years shaped my life.
Montana is wide open and gives us precious breathing room. The schools are no different. They’re not overly congested and even at the biggest schools most kids know each other. Or they at least recognize each other’s faces. I still have friends that I met in preschool, or I bump into someone on the street that I remember from high school Spanish class. Prodded by nostalgia, I’ll say this: Montana is a fantastic place to be a student.
Despite my nostalgic tendencies, I’m rooted enough in reality to remember how much I disliked school at times. That’s part of being a student. But time clarifies hindsight and gives us the ability to see what we want to see, pushing aside some of the less desirable memories.
I can sit down for five minutes and conjure up a barrage of random high school memories: waking up before dawn for basketball practice; having five minutes between classes and needing six; planning for the weekend on Monday; dropping calculus for advanced physical education; hours of doing nothing, yet seemingly a lot, with my best friends. These memories have stuck with me. So will yours.
The words “back to school” can be a bit depressing for many kids. Summer is over and long days inside the classroom have begun. I hear your cries. We all do, because we’ve all been there. But just wait until you start a full-time job, with piles of bills and nobody to give you sympathy. I’m skeptical of calling this the “real world” because it’s misleading to assume that youth is artificial or removed from reality. It’s simply a different world – much different. And it’s a pretty great world.
This year, school will open with a combination of somber grumbling and giddy excitement, and then end right on cue next summer. The process will repeat itself next year and then again and again in the following years until, quite abruptly, it’s all over. Enjoy school while it’s there.
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