School Daze

Greatest memories from my first 12 years of school
March 31, 2009
We share alot of thoughts on this site. Videos, articles, comments and pictures, But with all the focus on video games and television (which I love just as much as you do), we forget about some of our most nostalgic memories, the ones that really mean something to us.
This article is about the one place that produced more personal memories for me than any other, and of course i'm talking about my beloved childhood gradeschool. Specifically, in this article I will be sharing my favorite memories from Kidergarten all the way through the 5th grade.


My favorite childhood memories have always come from my days as a young student, walking the halls at my local childhood gradeschool. The sights, the sounds, even those strange smells you could never figure out exactly where they were coming from; this article will spotlight the events and times surounding the best experience any of us ever had in a structured school setting.

"As it did then, it will again". I will start this article the same way the schoolday began, at home.


(Sound familiar?)

Flying out of bed like it was on fire, I would meet my mom immediatley as if to say "What? I've totally been up this whole time?!?"

I would start my day with a bowl of cereal; like "Kaboom" or "Hidden Treasure" (which is not made anymore) and flop down on my Ninja Turtles pillow in front of the T.V. Now, I would NOT get up for school until right at 7 because I HATED getting up early. After I figured out my morning routine, I decided the absolute latest I could get out of bed and still have time to get ready for school before the bus came was 7am.

Usually getting to the T.V. right after the first "Power Rangers" episode had started. I would do my whole morning routine, standing right in front of the screen; I would eat breakfast, put on my clothes, brush my hair and teeth, everything, standing about 5 feet from the set. Just like most kids, I knew exactly what time the bus came to my corner, 7:50am, on the dot.
This was upsetting because I would insist on getting involved in the second episode of MMPR, knowing I would not be able to finish it. Anyway, I would put on my shoes and gather my school stuff; this would include many different things over the years, but some key items were.....................
My TMNT Lunchbox

My "Mighty Ducks" Starter Pullover

And of course the newest toy i'd somehow recently aquired that I was just begging to loose or get stolen (as my mother would usually put it).

Holy Crap! It's 7:45!

I gotta go!

I can still remember some of the banter at my local busstop.

It was the corner one block down from my house. I always thought this was a pointless walk because the route my bus would take came down the street, right in front of my house. I would always ask the busdriver why she couldn't just pick me up by my mailbox, why I would have to walk a whole block down the street, when she was going to pass right in front of my door anyway?
"Because thats the rules, thats why." was the answer I always got (I got that alot actually). So I would walk my way down the street, trying to avoid (or attack depending on my mood) the many rain puddles in the road, only to see my neighborhood friends waiting there for me. The busstop was a great time because it's that moment between parents and teachers, that moment of \ It's just you and your friends, completly uninhibied by any rules or morals//, or in other words...the real YOU!
A good place for a "show-n-tell" of your latest acquisition or maybe a good time to approach that "block-bully" and kick his ass!!...Like youv'e been meaning to do, right?!? Anyway, after what seemed like forever waiting (it was probably never more than 10 minutes), and of course right after you and your friends found something "fun" to do, you would hear those familiar words from the kids waiting in line "Hurry up, here comes the bus!"

Now depending on where you lived, you either caught the begining of the bus route, or the end. Both had their advantages and disadvantages, but of course, the closer to the end the better. I think the "creepy" bus driver is a staple for any public school system, and my school was no different. We had some characters, and probably former felons, on our local bus routes. Needless to say, they wern't exactly joyful about driving a bus full of gradeschoolers to school at 8a.m. every morning.

Again, heres another oppurtunity for social interactions. It seems like there was always a bully of some sort, and those kids that would crawl around under the seats...? There were the cryers and the kids that were always trying to finish their homework in there laps. It was always incredibly loud and probably unsafe on so many levels; no seatbelts, no arm rests, absolutley nothing to keep us from running and jumping around screaming inside a big, yellow, speeding projectile flying down the road. Not to mention being shuttled about town by the latest divorced, alcoholic, loser they could find to work that nifty little "door-opening" handle. Man those were the times, eh?!?

Continuing, it didn't matter how crazy you were on the bus ride there, it was known that when you approach the school, you "sit in your seat until the bus comes to a complete stop, then you exit one at a time, single-file". You exit the bus one after another, walk up those impressive steps, and enter through those incredibly heavy double-doors.
Now at my particular elementery school, There was a continuing theme of bright colors and motivational posters. I think this was a standard for most, but my school always seemed like it had more color design than any other schools I ever visited.

How could you ever forget those little water fountains!

They were just our size and way to small for anyone else to use. This is fun for a kid, Having something to yourself that older people couldn't use, Hell yeah!
And by the way, i'm not just talking about the newer "easy-to-use" water fountains you see today. I'm talking about the ones that were >inside< the wall, and you had to stick your whole head inside that stainless-steel contraption it was built in to use it. Those were probably to blame for so many "bugs" that you always hear about going "around" in most gradeschools. I also remember how stingy that little button could be at times. Sometimes it would work fine, sometimes just barley. Some were colder, some were warmer, and some just "tasted better", depending on who you asked. I remember personally, there was one fountain in particular that I prefered over the others; between the music room and the gym, last fountain on the right. After a hard game of basketball at recess, I would sprint down the hall, almost always getting yelled at by my teacher for running, and attack that or any water fountain I would see like a _ on _ !(enter your own joke, its less problematic for me)
That little button gave me some real problems at the most un-oppurtune times.







Probably the most dreaded place in gradeschool...


This was obviously the least favorite place for most young "rambunctious" boys and girls. This is a man or woman that regardless of the thickness of your "permanent record" (which might as well of been your lifes work that you would one day be judged by or something), I gauruntee you will never, ever, ever forget their name. Go ahead, say it out loud!

My gradeschool principal was Mr. Kelly. He was not a mean man, but not exactly nice either. He did however, always seem to be very intolerant of fun behavior. As if my POG's and Slammers were directly responsible for his balding head or cheating wife.
...Going to the office was no joke nonetheless. When you were sent to the office to talk with the principal, you had to wait outside in the hall, sitting on that lonley, miserable, brown leather couch. You sat there just waiting for someone you know to walk by and see you and either point and laugh, or look at you with great disappointment. Either way, it was one of the most embarassing moments of a young life. This was before "time-out" and "gradeschool detention", this was when you still had to fear that big wooden paddle and those "lickens" that were always readily available if you ever decided to get to far out of line.

Younger kids will not understand what there is to fear about a piece of wood with a bunch of holes in it. But there was definetley a time when "spankings" were a justified standard for any random punishment, big or small as it seemed.

Ouch! Lets get back to some nicer thoughts...

One of the best areas of a great Elementery school has to be the Library. This is where the best things about gradeschool shine; Books and stories, learning lessons through fun characters both on pages and in classic films, and of course, our first introduction to computers.
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Every grade in my elementry was assigned one day a week where they had a two hour period of "Libary time". It was kinda like a two hour class once a week. We would sometimes watch old movies like "Fiddler on the Roof", "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Bedknobs and Broomsticks", and "Marry Poppins". It was very cool because we would watch these films in a small area built around ceiling-tall bookshelves on a projector screen. The entire area was littered with beanbag chairs and pillows to lay on, literally at least thirty of them covered this entire 20x20 ft. "room".

We had alot of other fun things in our Libary like old-fashioned bath tubs lined with pillows to sit in and read, and even a series of old phone booths you could hide in to explore the latest months issue of Scholastics Book Club!

Oh yeah!! One of the best days of the month was the day the Book Club orders came in. On the first Library day of the month, we would be given these 2-3 page "catalogs" of books and other fun stuff that we could shamelessly ask our parents for money to purchase "cool" books from. If I were so lucky one month to get a few bucks, I would love to sift through the pages and pick out the books I could afford and simply dream about having the ones I could not.
You gave your order to the Librarian and 2 weeks later, you would show up to library class and there would be a heaping pile of books and goodies just waiting to be claimed. This was a most exciting time for 3rd and 4th graders in my school seeing how it was the only time school ever "gave" us anything we actually wanted. Later we recieved computers and that started to change everything. Kids today will never appreciate such a "complicatedly-simple" time like that ever again.
Whether it was the week you tryed to figure out that damn Dewey Decimal System, or that time every year when the D.A.R.E people would come around and declare it "Red Ribbon Week", The Library has to be the top "scene" in any first-rate gradeschool...Well almost anyway. There is ONE place that not even the Library could match, and that was the Playground.

Recess was something kids use to have when you could still trust people. From what I understand they do not do this in most schools anymore and this just really upsets me. This was the one thing we could used to stay sharp all day; an occasional break to let loose and refresh our young minds. I can only imagine kids these days as tiny robotic, droid-like creatures that are being auto-programed for eight hours a day by computers and powerpoint presentations.

*I remember before every recess we would get a chance to raid the "toy bin" and grab something to take outside with us. Usually a kickball, football or basketball ("make sure you get the good one!"), jumprope, or maybe even a frisbee. It was always kind of a big deal for us.*

Recess was something we would have twice a day, "Morning recess" and "Afternoon recess". I think it was like 30 minutes or so where you could go out to the playground (on a nice day; in the gym when it was rainy) and just let go. Run wild, play tag and kickball, or just sit and play with toys in the dirt. Back then, teachers didn't care as long as you wern't fighting. Most playgrounds had the typical things; The Monkey Bars, The Teeter-Totter's, The Swings and the Carosel's. My playground also had a regulation kickball court and Tetherball court, along with that multi colored map of The United States that was used for some kind of game that I never played/understood. Recess was usually dismissed by a teacher and his/her extremely loud P.E whistle.

Now as I think about it, When we were young, whistles played fairly important roles in or develpoment. Always summoning us and dismissing us to different areas and appointments.
Actually, if you think about it, they kinda treated us as if we were just cattle or something...

So by mid-day, i'm guessing your probably starting to get hungry, right? Well of course Lunchtime was going to be in this article!

Lunchtime, like recess, was another chance to break from the usual routine of schoolwork. In most small town public schools, lunch was a literal "feeding-frenzy" of young child screaming and spilling food everywhere. I recall my lunchtimes in college in the public cafeteria, and compare those times to my gradeschool cafeterias...there is no comparison. You could easily do homework or read a book with your lunch in college, but from K-12, you were lucky to be able to hear your own voice through the calamity of a full auditorium of "less-than-modest" juveniles. Lunchtime in gradeschool however, will always be a fond memory for me.
There was a highly anticipated lunch schedule, where each day of the week would bring a specific food.

Everyones favorite...Pizza Day!!

For us it was Tuesdays. I will always remember those great little rectangular pizzas. I don't know that they were actually all that good (I havn't had one in quite some time) but I loved them in school. Other favorites were "Corndog" day, "Chicken Strip/Nugget" day, "Oven Fried Chicken" day, "Taco" day and "Hamburger" day.
In Jr. High, they started offering us "Al-la-cart" menus and potato and salad bars. This was when we started paying for our own lunch and it became a lot less exciting.
One staple that stayed with me throughout all of my years in school lunches, were those great little cartons of milk. Both white and chocolate, 2% milk usually from Prarie Farms or some local distributor, was the quint essential of any balanced lunch. I remember barley being able to finish one in 1st grade, but by the time I was in highschool, I would have to have at least three of those things before my afternoon classes.

In preschool and maybe even kindergarden, we would have another recess after lunch, I supose to burn off those recentley gained extra calories, and then it was back inside for milktime and/or naptime.

Do you remember owning one of these little mats? I had one just like the pictures. Only about four feet long and hardly padded at all, they were small, foldable, and made just for kids.
Naptime was great. You actually got to pretend to sleep for like half an hour. Of course i'm not sure how many kids ever actually slept, but mostly we would camp out in our favortie area of the room with a buddy and just lay still while we whispered to one another. It was nice though because the teacher would turn out the lights and it was very serine.

Ok enough of that. I would like to take this oppurtunity to address a personal issue. When I was in gradeschool I had an absolutley fantastic music class. I know alot of schools now have done away with music programs, especially gradeschool programs. This is a mistake. Music classes were some of the best and more important classes of my young life. We learned about rhythems, beats, instruments and songs. We also watched a bunch of old "musical" movies like "The Sound of Music", "Oliver", "Annie", "The King and I" and "Grease".

I cannot remember how often, but once in a while, the whole class would gather in a circle and pick from these dinky little instruments, and we would play "band".

I remember there being a tamborine, a drum, a kazoo, a triangle, marraccas, small cymbals, maybe a xylophone and a number of other random sound making toys. We would be asked to attempt to make some kind of musical sense, but usually it was an all out noisefest.
This was also the class where, each semester, we would practice the songs and skits for the Christmas and Spring performances.

We did alot of other things in music class too like square dancing, Limbo, Musical Chairs and I can even still remember learning my treble clef and bass lines by memorizing FACE, EGBDF which was "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge", ACEG which was "All Cows Eat Grass", and GBDFA as "Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always", and then writting them out on the chalkboard. I loved music class and I hate to think that kids today are not getting that same great, creative experience. In fact I can honestly say that I did some things in elementary music class that I have never, and will never do again (e.g. square dancing) but I know in the back of my mind, if I ever really needed to, I bet I still could.
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Another highlight of the gradeschool year, was the excitement of an upcoming holiday, and the activities that would lead up to them.

Hand turkeys were the best!

My favorite though was Halloween. I loved the silly "Frankenstien" or "Skeleton" door hangings that every teacher had; they would always decorate their rooms and allow us time during the week to do fun activities and art. But of course, the best part of Halloween at school was the parade. Yep, every October 30th, we would bring our Halloween costumes to school with us and right after lunch, we would get to go put them on and take part in the mainstreet parade. It was cool because there was a "half day", and half days are great! All the students from all five grades would pile into buses and we would head uptown. Once there, we would organized into grades and classes and, with our also costumed teachers leading the way, we would walk down mainstreet in the Octoberfest Parade. Showing off our disguises to everyone looking and waving to our moms with the video cameras; it was a small moment of celebrity in a young childs life.

It was a great setup to the following Halloween night when we would go trick-or-treating and really get some use out of those masks and capes!

Another fun holiday at school was Valentines Day.

Every year we would make these silly little boxes and decorate them with frilly lace and pink hearts. Then we would mount them on the side of our desks and wait for those ever so important Valentines Day cards to start pouring in.

I still remember the excitement I felt when we would go shopping for these cards. It was a whole process decideing which ones I was going to hand out each year. It was almost as if your Valentines Day cards were an exact representation of you and who you were. I remember you could get almost anything from "Batman" and "The Hulk" to "Barbie" and the "Little Mermaid".
Deciding on the type of card was only the first step though, next you had to go through all the pages of them and decide which classmates were getting which valentines. The best cards you saved for those special people, and you gave the less than cool ones to everyone else. With phrases like "Be my Valentine" or simply "Happy Valentines Day" and then others like "Glad your my friend" and "Your a great pal!", these were either a joy, or a heartache depending on your social circles. Some kids would have a box full, some would only have the one the teacher handed out that says "Happy Valentines Day to a great student!" (how embarassing).

Later in life, we would enjoy things like Accelerated Reader, Channel One in the mornings and long-distance, end of the year class field trips. These too were also great, but I felt they were either to big, or not big enough, to write about in this article.

So our schoolday is finally coming to an end. Your probably already thinking about that afterschool cartoon that will be on in less than an hour, or maybe you got big plans with some buddies. Either way, your probably exhausted by now, and ready to get the hell out of here. But before you go, let me leave you with this.
If I learned anything while writing this article, I learned that life as an adult can sometimes get way to serious. Sometimes, we need to go back to gradeschool and think about how simple things were then. Regardless of what you do for a living, regardless of how much money you make; the fact is, we all were once just a bunch of snot-nosed little kids running the halls of a local gradeschool somewhere; simply trying to fit in and not get in trouble.

I thank you for sticking with me, I know it was long, but I wanted to give you everything I could in just one article! Let me know what you think and please, don't forget to share!

Later and Love Retrojunkers
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