By Jeanette Pelton
Anna looked in the mirror to brush her bangs. She sighed. Today was her first day of school. She would go with her big sister Marti. Mother had bought them new crayons and paper and pencils and paste and a school bag to carry them in. She had a new lunchbox too, a pretty red and blue one that held a thermos of juice and a sandwich and an apple and cookies.
Anna felt confused. Part of her wanted so much to grow up and go to school. The other part was scared. Scared to leave mother and go to that big building at the end of the road. She knew her big sister would go with her, and that the school wasn’t too far from home, but somehow that didn’t really help much.
“Come on, Anna, we’ll be late,” said Marti as she passed her door. “You don’t want to be late on the first day of school do you?”
Actually, she wished she could just stay here and not go at all. But mother called again, “Anna, time for breakfast! You don’t want to be late!”
Anna dragged herself downstairs. Her sister had told her all about school-the hours of writing and sitting and waiting for everyone else. Mother had said she would like it, but the way her sister had described it didn’t really sound too promising. She dawdled over breakfast until time for worship. After Mother had prayer, she had hugged Anna tight. Anna thought she saw a tear in her mother’s eyes. It made her worry even more. If school was going to be good, why did Mother look so sad?
Anna walked to school with Marti. Marti’s friend joined them as they went down the street. Anna walked more and more slowly as they got closer to the building. She was afraid, but she was not quite sure why. Mother had taken her to the school last week to meet her teacher and show her around the building. The room had been pretty, with bright bulletin boards. She like the flowers on the windowsill. There had even been a guinea pig in a cage that the children could pet. Her teacher had seemed nice enough, in a grownup sort of way. Other children her age where there with their parents. She hadn’t spoken to any of them. She had suddenly felt shy.
Now here she was, standing in the doorway of her first grade class. Her teacher smiled and showed her to her desk and helped her put her things in it. Then she showed her where to hang her coat and put her lunch on the shelf. The teacher had to go and help someone else, so Anna sat at her desk, waiting. She looked around as the desks started to fill up with children. There were 18 students in her class. How would she ever remember all their names?
After everyone was seated, the teacher prayed and then told part of the story of Moses for worship. Then she began passing out arithmetic books. Anna opened hers to the middle and gulped. It looked hard. Teacher helped them put their names on the covers and open to page one. She showed them how to make numerals and they spent time practicing. It seemed like no time until teacher told them to put their books away for recess. At recess, they played running games. It was fun. Anna enjoyed running. When it was time for school again, they got more books and papers. Soon it was time for lunch. In the lunchroom, Anna found a seat between two girls.
“My name is Mary,” the girl on her left said.
“I’m Alicia. I sit behind you in class. Do you like school?”
“I don’t know yet. I’m Anna.”
“I wonder who that man is?” asked Anna.
“That’s the principal. If you get into any trouble, you go to his office,” said Alicia. “My big brother goes there lots.”
“What does the principal do?”
“I think he’s in charge of the whole school,” Mary answered.
“I liked recess,” Anna offered.
“You can run fast,” Mary said. “I’m not a very good runner, but I like to jump rope.”
“Do we do that here?”
“I don’t know. I hope so. I brought my rope to play with after lunch.”
“Teacher said when we’re finished eating to put our lunch boxes back on the shelf and go outside and play till she calls us,” said Alicia.
“Do you want to jump rope with us?” Anna asked as they went out to play.
Alicia was really good at jumping and showed Anna several new games with a rope. She found out that Alicia lived some distance away and her mother brought her to school by car. Mary and Anna lived quite near each other. The girls had so much fun they felt a little sorry when it was time to go in. But they got to color some pictures to take home to their mothers. After a story and a little rest on their mats, it was time to learn the sounds of letters. Suddenly a bell rang.
“It’s time to get ready to go home,” announced her teacher. “Please get your lunch boxes and papers and line up by the door in single file.”
Anna was surprised. The day had gone so quickly she hadn’t noticed. Out front she met her sister Marti again.
On their way home, Marti asked, “So how do you like school?”
Anna thought for a moment about the jump roping and the games, the coloring and her two new friends. She smiled. “I think I’m going to like school. It’s not bad at all. I’ll race you home!”
Source: Empowering Families for Growth & Change: Family Ministries Planbook. Silver Spring, MD; Department of Family Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1994.