It is in the books - the first day of school at St. Paul's. I know that that there are other schools who will be having first days today or tomorrow or whenever. That's all right. It is good that they have first days. But for me, yesterday (Monday, August 15th) was the first day of school.
It was good to have the children back in the building. It has been empty all summer, save for the week of Vacation Bible School in the middle of June and for Sunday school each Sunday morning for an hour. But a school building devoid of students is an empty place.
Mr. Monroe has been working all summer to prepare the building for the children. He has refinished the floors in the classrooms so that they shine, a nice deep shine that makes it possible to walk into the classroom and enjoy the way it looks.
The teachers came back at the beginning of the month and began to prepare their classrooms, preparing for this day to arrive. Looking around the school you see how all things are ready.
Mrs. Thomas has made the kindergarten room a welcoming place for the seven new kindergarten students who are all smiles and yet have that nervous look on their face. "I am in kindergarten, woohoo! But wait, I am in kindergarten, I am scared of what that means. Help me! I am about to cry." And up steps Mrs. Thomas with her smile and her kind way and the nervousness soon melts back into excitement.
The 1st and 2nd grade come in feeling that they have somehow arrived at the promised land and Mrs. Dehne is there to help them with that feeling. The classroom has a new look, a new feel. Mrs. Dehne has made it her classroom this year. It looks like her and the students see that. There are the six 1st graders who are fresh out of kindergarten, knowing that they have advanced to the place of learning. The six 2nd graders are the big ones in the classroom now. They remember how the 2nd graders acted last year and they try to be that same way, all grown up in the way that only 2nd graders can be. And with 12 children in the classroom, Mrs. Dehne work efficiently and lovingly to help each one of them feel special.
Next door there are 8 children looking to Mrs. McLaughlin for guidance as they enter the realm of the 3rd and 4th grade. The 3rd grade has only 2 students - 1 boy and 1 girl. The girl misses her classmate from last year but will quickly adjust to her new classmate this year. Oh how she wishes she had both classmates but Mrs. McLaughlin helps her to adjust to the new world of 3rd grade. Excitement as one of the six 4th grade students tries to get his big red notebook into his desk only to see that it is too wide. With the flair of only a 4th grade student, he continues to try as he hopes for all his classmates to notice that he has a big red notebook that won't fit into the desk. each student has their way of trying to the attention of the other students as they try to unpack their bags and get it all into one little desk. Chaos? Not really, not for Mrs. McLaughlin who smiles happily to see her students back in her classroom.
Let's move up the hallway to the real action is, where the older students will reside for the next 9 months. Here is the 5th and 6th grade classroom with the 7 students. Mrs. Doyle welcomes them in with her caring smile and her sharp eye. She sees what each is bringing in and knows what they need and don't need. The 5th grade students are, what is that I see in their eyes, nervous, a little scared? But no, they won't let anyone know that about them. They are confident in only the way a 5th grade student can be. Looking around there is the 4 sixth grade students confidently setting the boundaries for the 5th grade to live within - who is going to be the class leader this year? Who will be the one that everyone looks for to know if they should laugh or if they should just do their work? There she is, Mrs. Doyle, sitting in her chair, smiling at them, showing them the way that they should be as they face this year. No fears, Mrs. Doyle is here. Will she be as mean as others have said? She chuckles to herself. Let them think she is mean, tough or whatever. Loving them in Christ, she will be the teacher they need to go through this year.
Then we come to where they really have "arrived" - the 7th and 8th grade class. Confident, sure of themselves, a swagger in their step - all of which hides the real person inside who is trying to figure out who he or she truly is. This year is a chance to shape and mold their persona. And yet, there is the unknown with that - Mr. Cluck, a new teacher, a MAN teacher, someone that no one here has had before. Who is he? What is he? Will he be nice? Will he be tough? More questions in the minds of students who are already filled with questions. the 5 seventh grade students look to the 7 8th grade students for guidance in how to act. All right Mr. Cluck, you are their guide this year, their teacher, their mentor.
Then there is the place of great confusion - the preschool. Moms and Dads bring their little ones into the classrooms. Students everywhere. Pictures taken. Tears shed. The confident little girl suddenly bursts into tears and doesn't want to stay. The shy little boy marches in and takes control of the little truck and starts talking with the boy next to him. Nothing is at it seems. Nothing is as it will be tomorrow (which by the way is today!). Miss Darla and Miss Tanya welcome the 4's into the classroom as Miss Michelle works to help the 3's feel comfortable in this completely new way of life. They are setting the table for the years to come.
And it is complete. Things are as they should be once again. The students are back. The teachers are teaching. The building is humming. And over it all, the Holy Spirit is filling hearts, minds and souls with the wonder of the love of the Savior. How do I fit into this picture? That is the question that will be answered through out the year. May the Lord bless this new school year.