Dispatch from the First Day of School

Tell me I can only keep one holiday a year, and I’ll toss out Halloween in a heartbeat and stuff my Thanksgiving turkey back in the fridge.  The greatest holiday on the calendar is the First Day of School.

We’re in the midst of a string of first days here at Grace.  On Wednesday morning, I walked down the center stairs at 86 Fourth Avenue as the middle schoolers were climbing up for the first time this year.  All summer long that stairwell has been unsettlingly quiet.  Now, a rising tide of hope, expectation, nerves, and delight worked its way up the building, which—strange as it may sound—seemed happy to have its students back.

Certainly the teachers are thrilled to see their students return and to welcome those new to Grace.  Our Early Childhood and Lower School divisions had their first day on Thursday.  Classrooms were abuzz with excitement as students, and teachers tried out the rituals that will so quickly become the daily routines of the school year—those handshakes, greetings, calls-and-responses that, in the strange alchemy of school, are made more meaningful by repetition.

Things are humming at 46 Cooper Square, too, where our high schoolers have been in and out of the building for orientations.  Their official first day is Monday.  Mine, too, or so it will feel when I teach my first class at Grace.

I’m itching to go.  I spent most of the summer building the daily schedule for our three youngest divisions, moving around Post-It notes on a wall, trying to design days that feel balanced for students (and for their teachers).  I wasn’t alone.  There were plenty of folks here throughout the summer, chief among them our dedicated maintenance team working to spiff up our spaces.  But schools don’t feel like schools without their students, and Post-It notes are poor companions.

With the first day of school here, it’s finally time to begin again.  I’m happy to be doing so with you.