Back To (my Old) School

After graduating junior high and high school, I didn’t imagine I’d ever have much reason to go back for a visit–except my younger sister’s concerts, or play performances.

Even when I decided I wanted to be a reporter, I didn’t really realize how many stories I would do connected with the local schools.

I don’t spend all my time there, but I do find myself back at my old schools a lot more often than I ever thought.

Going back is always a bit strange, but the longer it’s been since I graduated, the weirder it gets.

The high school is the easiest. It hasn’t changed too much, everything looks mostly the same, and the kids still mostly tower over me, which is at least familiar.

But going back to St. Bridget’s–the K-8 school I attended from third through eighth grade–is often strange. Fun, but strange.

Last week, I visited St. Bridget’s for a story about Sue Steckbauer, who is leaving her position as principal of St. Bridget’s Catholic School.

Steckbauer started at St. Bridget’s after I graduated, and she’s made many wonderful changes since she started. So, although the school is familiar, many parts are very different.

To start with, an entire staircase I often used as a student there is gone–it was filled in with office space on the top floor.

Even the classrooms that haven’t been altered structurally look different. Where there were chalkboards and the occasional whiteboard there are now Prometheans (similar to a smart board). Where there were only text books and notebooks, iPads and laptops have been added to the mix.

When I went to St. Bridget’s, we had one computer lab full of those old green and white iMacs. And our teachers used chalkboards, whiteboards and overhead projectors–not the kind that connect to a computer and put PowerPoint presentations on the screen, the old projector cart rolled up from the back of the classroom. Our teachers used clear plastic overhead sheets, and wrote on them with overhead markers.

I am very impressed with the way school technologies have improved over the years, but seeing it also makes me a bit nostalgic.

Seeing the new technology also made me realize there are some things that the younger generation (including two of my cousins now in school) may never understand.

Such as: Learning how to  write on the chalkboard without getting chalk all over your hands, cleaning erasers, and of course the torture of hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.

Though I don’t think anyone will miss that last one.

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