Many students and teachers likely marked the end of the 100th day of school without acknowledging its significance. After all, we are in the depths of winter and the boredom of the whole routine has probably affected our good judgment. Don’t be so quick to discount the meaning, though.
By this time in the school year, we have a real handle on what direction our children are going in and how far they have traveled. Teachers will look out at their classrooms and, truth be told, not recognize some of the students from that first day in August. They have grown physically, intellectually and emotionally.
We wish we could take credit, but other factors likely are responsible. Children mature at different stages, with boys hitting their growth spurt later than girls.
Looking back, there was the first day of school, like rousing a bear out of hibernation. That cannot be a pretty picture. Just shake the leg and get out of the room as quickly as you can.
This was followed, mercifully, by the Labor Day weekend. Like any tradeoff, you had to shed the nice weather for leaves and cold. By that time, students and teachers had a chance to go through that first test and Parent-Teacher Conference.
At Illiana Christian High School, we stood in a line that stretched 10 deep to talk to Brian Sylvester about Matt’s biology grades. The teacher was still smiling and holding up pretty well at 8 p.m., though some of that might have been the coffee.
Students do get attached to their teachers. My oldest, Matt, started out the year a nervous wreck. A whole new experience greeted him as he started high school. Like any new student, his concerns didn’t fall completely into the academic side; there were also social dynamics in play.
Sam, our younger, quieter son, was moving ever closer to middle school. Where would the school year take him? Would he be able to grasp the more difficult math?
We like to say that we have been lucky with the boys’ teachers. While that is true to some extent, the reality is that teachers are trained to recognize where students are and where they should be heading.
The student that comes into class with a scowl on his face and a bevy of tattoos on his arm might just be the student that you have dreamed of since getting into teaching, bringing a combination of raw talent and a hint of the combative to make things interesting and fun, challenging your ideas.
The stereotypical student, whether a jock, a popular girl or the shy student in the corner, is someone we pour our energies into as parents, teachers or counselors. It is what makes the 100th day special.
On that day, we should take stock of where we’ve been and where we are going, look out the window and breathe a sigh of relief.
We can look at it as the Chicago White Sox do when they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in September. They call it Halfway to St. Patty’s Day. We can call it "Happy 100th Day: Look at Me Now."