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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I learned in 5th grade...

Today I realized that every time I discuss anything of any significance that happened in my childhood I refer more to the grade I was in than to how old I was. "Oh yes, I remember that. I was in 'so and so' grade." Not sure if anyone else does that or not. A couple of things crossed my mind today and I thought to myself: "I was in fifth grade when that happened." So of course I go strolling down memory lane.

The year was 1985. Back then we started school about the third week of August. At the beginning of August the Lord saved my soul and the day after I was baptized I got braces. There was a horrible car wreck that killed an elderly lady who was a neighbor to my sister. How do I remember that? I am not sure. I was excited for school to start because my teacher was a young lady that graduated with my brother. She was very sweet and liked hugs. I think it may have been her first year of teaching. Two of my closest friends were in the same room. Of course being such a tiny school I already knew all my classmates. 

I learned a lot my fifth grade year, more so about life than academics but I learned several new things in that area too. In October only a few short weeks before my brother was to move back home from the Air Force my grandfather had a massive heart attack. He survived but it was very serious. I was afraid I would not have him by Christmas. I really didn't realize how much this was affecting me until my mom met with my teacher. The next day of school she sat with me and ask me about my grandfather. My initial thought was, "Why does she care she is a teacher?" That is when I really realized that teachers were people too. She had grandparents, parents, and siblings. She was a real person. I had always had awesome teachers that were very caring but personalization never occurred to me to mind.

That fall the Titanic had been "rediscovered" by and was being explored by a man who had invented some robotic machines that could navigate through the wreckage. The St. Louis Cardinals were in the series again. This thrilled me to no end. That same fall I started realizing how different things were becoming on all levels. I was not as shy as I used to be for one thing. My feelings were changing about different things. I was on the road to adulthood and I had no idea what was happening. Things were getting a little confusing. Fortunately at this time in my life I started realizing what true friendship was. Friends were not just people you sat beside at lunch and talked to or played with at recess. Bethany and I started hanging out more and more. She wasn't even in my class. We started having sleep overs, something I had never really done before nor did I want to do. By the end of my fifth grade year things were getting very scary. I was going to have to go to Middle School and there would be a bunch of kids I did not know unlike my cozy little little elementary classrooms I would have to change classes, have different teachers all day, and go my locker when I was supposed to. On top of all that my sister was getting married before school was even out. I came to school crying. This was a lot for one little girl to take in and what happened? There was my caring teacher with her arms out and my real friends around me trying to make me feel better. Did I learn something besides life lessons that year? Of course!

We had reading worksheets with a few paragraphs and questions at the end to assess comprehension. That year I learned that Mt. McKinnley is the highest mountain in the United States and it is located in Alaska. I learned that Bill Cosby had a troubled childhood but he prevailed (the Cosby Show was popular that year so that interested me).  I also learned that there was a dreadful disease that doctors did not know much about called AIDS. An actor had already died from it and a little boy named Ryan White had this. He was not allowed to go to school and this stirred national attention. We discussed this as a class. We also talked about a little boy named Adam Walsh who was abducted from a New York mall and killed. Our teacher told us things we could do to stay safe from strangers. We even did a finger print kit. In social studies we learned how our country started and with the help from my teacher's husband I learned that Hooker was the name of a general and the way that prostitutes got the name "hookers" was because of that guy. I learned that I had a hard time with converting measurements and cheating was not the answer. Science was a big deal. Though nothing pops in my mind about it right now if the right thing is mentioned I'll say: "Oh yes, I learned about that in the fifth grade." I could also ask my very best friend if she remembers, after all she was in my fifth grade class.

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