I vaguely remember what it was like to be a grade school student. It has been almost nine years since I had my own desk, locker and greatest invention of them all, a backpack with wheels. One tends to forget these influential supplies when they are overcome with the constant movement and anxiety that comes with being a high school and college student. But now, after solidifying myself as a graduate of both high school and college, I find myself back in the grade school environment. The Hellenic American Academy in historic Lowell, Mass. hired me as its Business Development Manager in October. My daily responsibilities include promoting and marketing the school, constructing fundraising efforts and helping increase enrollment. Although I completely relish the opportunity I have been given, there is a viable part of me that wishes I could go back to the days where my biggest worry was a spelling test on Friday.
The Hellenic American Academy is a pre-school through grade 8 academy rooted in Greek history, language, culture and faith. The school is open to all children no matter their race or religious background thus creating a positive atmosphere for every child that attends. In my two months since being hired, I have been welcomed not only by the faculty but the children, especially in the younger grades. They call me "Mr. Stevens," (something my father is accustomed to being called) and with their daily high fives, smiles and waves, there is never a moment that would make me acquire a frown. The children are dynamic in their own way allowing me the simple ability to reminisce of the times when I was in their shoes, and desks for that matter. But, the problematic factor that arises from the replaying of my school career was my youthful infatuation with being older than I actually was.
Now, I can vividly recall those countless moments when being older was the only thing coursing through this mind I possess. On day one of kindergarten, I could not wait to be a first grader. They appeared taller, wiser and did not have to engage in naptime. First graders could go to bed an hour later and even got to stay up late on the occasional Friday night to watch Boy Meets World, my favorite show. This desire to be older consumed my own ability to fully enjoy the grade I was in and the benefits that come from being a child in school.
However, there was always one aspect of school in which my fantasies of being older would come to a significant halt. This phenomenon you ask is none other than recess. I longed for recess. No... I yearned for recess as if I were Ryan Gosling's character from The Notebook. It was all I thought about during the day and when it was over I would plan my activity for the following day's recess. Would I take to the swings to see how high I could get? Would I partake in an ever demanding, yet, exhilarating game of four square? The possibilities were endless and although the time was condensed, I knew I had to get as much accomplished as I could.
I find it quite enlightening to see that after so many years of being away from recess I see a new generation of children who have the same admiration for it that I did. The school yard at the Hellenic American Academy is filled with games of soccer, football and of course, tag. The children cannot wait to get outside as they make sure to have their winter coats, hats and gloves on as it tends to get a bit frigid in Massachusetts this time of year. I can feel their happiness when they are about to go out and I feel their sorrow when they hear the bell for when its time to come back inside. However, the worst feeling is when indoor recess occurs due to the weather. It feels as though a network just axed your favorite television show. But thankfully that has not occurred that much this year. (Knock on wood)
I should be clear in what I am proclaiming. I am not here self-loathing over the effects of being older. I fully enjoy the responsibilities that come with being twenty-one years old and working a full time job. But, I would not be opposed to Christopher Lloyd strolling up my driveway with his DeLorean parked on my grass. I would not think twice about getting into the contraption and traveling back to my younger years in school. I would just want to focus on being a child in grade school and not have such an urgency to rush through those pivotal years.
I have the Hellenic American Academy to thank for allowing me to feel like a kid again even if it only occurred in an imaginary thought process. I guess the countless years of adults saying, "Don't wish to be older, be your age" finally clicks once you hit your twenties and bills start showing up in your name. I hope that the ninety-nine students I see on an everyday basis enjoy being in their grade and embrace their youth because one day, they will only have memories.