Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School & Writing Assignments

                                                             

  This past week many Facebook friends posted pictures of their children and grandchildren on the first day of school. Some even posted old black and white Kodak prints of their  own first day of school long years ago. All  very endearing and sweet,

   When I was a kid I seem to remember there was a happy anticipation at the start of each school year, like something new and good was about to happen. Students seemed to understand , sometimes grudgingly so, the summer season was over, and it was time again to study and learn.  One thing that always seemed to be the same from grade to grade  was sometime  during the first two weeks of school the teacher would assign the class to write about their summer vacation .

   While I don't recall each essay I wrote, two come to mind. The first one was about visiting my Grandpa Cecil Cooney at the Veteran's Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. He was very ill and no longer recognized many people he once knew,  but when I walked into the room he recognized me, and smiled. I adored my Grandfather and was so glad to see him. I took his hand and held  it against my cheek. Grandpa was my hero, we had shared so many happy times together. He always called me his 'Little brown-eyed sweetheart' . When Grandma asked if I wanted to help feed him , I quickly nodded yes , so grateful I could do something for Grandpa after all he had done for me.

   The other essay I remember   about summer vacation was when I was in 8th grade . Sister Mary  Agnesine instructed the class to write a descriptive story about something we did over the summer. I wrote of my first experience riding a Honda 50 . After Jim,  a dear family friend gave me  instruction  on how to start the motorcycle  and shift gears, I did just the opposite of what he said, and started  in high gear. Then,  faster than a locomotive,   I soared over the side of the bluff , dropping 30 feet into a dark murky lake,  like a  dive bomber crashing into the sea.  Honda and all. After hitting the water I floated to the top, but the bike sank straight to the bottom. I wasn't injured, just stunned and scared.  It took several dives before Jim eventually was able to pull the Honda from the water, but sadly,  it never ran the same  again. Sister wrote a note on the top of my paper that mys essay  was well written, but I didn't follow instructions as it was to be a 'true' story. I had to take some extra time after class  to explain it was a true story.

   I don't think educators have changed much over the years  - they still  assign  essays about summer vacations.  Last week I pulled a notebook from a chest downstairs  to re-read stories  my son Gavin wrote about his summer vacations , our family  trip to Disney World when he and his dad stood for an hour in the Florida heat to go down the slide at the water park,  and another about he and I spending  the day at Northtown Mall in Spokane.

                                                             
                                         

   In my opinion , that kind of writing exercise is beneficial to students of all ages, helping them to develop sentence structure, description,  and dialogue, and to tell a story in their own words, and style.  The same could be said of  writers, too. No matter how long we've been writing, it might be worth our while to think back on some of those  old school day  writing assignments , and put them into practice again.  Summer is passed, the new school year has begun,  why not write about one  experience you had during the summer. Perhaps a trip abroad, kayaking on the lake, a family reunion, or barbecue in the backyard. Decide on one special summer moment, and see where it leads you !



8 comments:

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Love this post, especially the part about the motorcycle. Yikes, how amazing that you came out unscathed! Funny that the teacher didn't believe it was a true story. It must have been way more excitement than she was used to, lol.

I was one of those odd children who LOVED to write papers and essays. No single essay stands out in my mind, though. I'll have to give it some thought.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading this . You always help to bring back happy memories. Thank You so much for that. Look forward to your next posting. I too enjoyed the part about the motorcycle...wow you are amazing. :)


jm

Patty said...

What a fun to read blog this was, Kath! Great memories shared with all of us....

Paul Schwerdt said...

I honestly don't remember that assignment and I was in class with you. The only event that comes to mind in the first semester of eighth grade were the tears in Sr. Mary Agnesine's eyes on Nov. 22 when she announced that Kennedy had been shot.

I do remember in the spring of eighth grade having to put together a kind of scrapbook about California. Some of you people had 2.5 inch thick notebooks. And you all got A+++. I felt like I had received an F, since my scrawny 1/2 inch notebook only rated a B+.

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