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Welcome Back

To A New Year


The title of this column almost seems like an oxymoron. How can you be welcomed back to something that is new?

Since we have just seen the start of a new school year in our Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon communities, however, that’s where the thought comes in. To that end, we welcome back our students, teachers and administrators to the campuses for the new 2016-17 school year.

It has been a couple of years since I have had to do the ‘back-to-school’ shopping thing, as my daughter is on to college and working part-time. She buys her own clothes and generally, except for some incredibly early morning shifts at a summer job the past few months where I made sure she was up at 4 a.m., serves as her own alarm clock.

Hopefully everyone had a relaxing summer, though we know teachers and administrators didn’t have the same break as the kids. Administrators always seem to have issues to address and many teachers headed back to their classrooms weeks ago to get them ready for the arrival of students on Aug. 10.

Fall sports practices have begun and it won’t be long before we will start having football, volleyball, cross country and more filling up our sports pages again. And even though it’s a little tougher now than it was 20 years ago to traipse up and down the sidelines every Friday night, covering football and all the other sports throughout the year remains the most fun part of my job.

To me, there’s also an inherent excitement about the first day of school. It brings with it a full year of possibilities, a chance to reconnect with friends maybe you haven’t seen all summer, decide what clubs to join, find out who your teachers are, see if there are any ‘new kids’ that could potentially become friends.

We often stop by the kindergarten classrooms for first day photos and see a wide range of emotions, from both parents and kids. Though many students have been to day care and/or preschool, the big elementary campus can still be somewhat daunting on that first day.

Every year has its own unique memories and as much as it seems like kindergarten (or TK) through senior year is such an overwhelming amount of time, it goes by incredibly fast and quickly becomes a distant memory as you move through life.

It’s fun, though, to reminisce about the teachers you really liked, those you hoped you would never get and those that weren’t as bad as you feared.

Had things worked out differently when I was in college, teaching might have been my career path. I had done the bulk of my coursework in Journalism but also had an interest in Early Childhood Education. So I did a semester concentrating on that, including writing a children’s book as a final exam in one class. But then fate intervened and while working part-time for Head Start and part-time for a radio station, was offered full-time in radio and never looked back.

Sixth grade was probably the most interesting year in my school career – that was when our class had a foreign exchange student. At least that’s what I remember them saying but perhaps he was just living with a local family; sixth grade is pretty young to be an exchange student. It was exciting, though, as we didn’t have many visitors from Mexico come all the way to upstate New York. He had four names (which I can still remember him saying) and of course, was the cutest sixth grade boy ever, even if his words didn’t always come out quite the right way. It was a combination fifth-sixth grade class so as one of the sixth graders, I was among the elite. Or so I liked to think.

My teacher that year also really encouraged me about my writing, told me to stick with it and said I needed to make sure that I wrote every day.

Hmm, maybe I should find her and let her know that I am still following that advice…



Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.