What three-word phrase elicits groans from some and but giddy anticipation from others? That’s right: back to school.  We asked three Northland residents to share their favorite memories from back in their day. Here’s what they said.

Kathy Gates, Owner of The Running Well Store

My favorite childhood memory is how involved I was in sports as a child.  From basketball to AYSO soccer, to swim team, to softball to equestrian sports, each really developed my drive, teamwork and leadership skills. Plus they were a ton of fun. When I have time I still like playing intramural soccer, and of course going for a run!

Nan Johnson, Mayor, Parkville

My fondest school memory is when our team won the football game. The players and students would walk from the stadium to the front yard of the convent to sing to the nuns who would come out of the house to the porch when they heard the singing start. It was a tradition that started generations before us when there were few communication options. Singing “Good Night Irene” let them know we won.

Jenny Kincaid, vPR Specialist and Weston native

Going back to school conjures up so many wonderful and exciting feelings…each year meant something new.

In elementary school it was bright, chilly mornings, racing my older brother to the end of the driveway to catch the bus and the morning dew getting my shoes wet. I remember standing by the mailbox on our gravel road for a quick back-to-school picture for Mom and the smell of the leather seats in the school bus (yes, it was always clean on the first day – Rural Route 3, Bus #3). I loved walking into a new classroom and seeing my name on the desk and stickers from the teacher, and can still see in my mind the tiny chairs, sinks and water fountains. I remember the smell of the cafeteria and the tan and teal tiled floor, new school clothes and best of all, new school supplies! I was one of those kids who was always more excited about getting new pens, pencils, a backpack, lunch box and new Velcro binder (yes, Velcro, and yes, it was cool back then). I would organize and reorganize my school supplies every day until I finally got to take them to school. New markers and crayons…so exciting! I still love those things, but now they’re called “office supplies” and I still don’t like black ink – to this day, I prefer a pencil or a medium felt tip pen in purple.

Back to school also meant saying the Pledge of Allegiance and new playground equipment and because I was such a tomboy, I couldn’t wait for recess or gym class to see which kickball and/or dodge ball team I got picked for and which boy I had to compete with all year long to win the rope climb contest.

We had the absolute best art, music and gym teachers at Weston and I looked forward to going to each class. I can’t say enough about our teachers and what they taught us: how to compete, lose and win; to try, try, try again; to use our imagination and sing like no one was watching, although everyone was always staring. I feel bad for kids who don’t have those classes today; they’re truly missing out. All of our teachers were great!

Going back to school also meant dinner was at a certain time, so was bath and bedtime. Sitting on the porch listening to cicadas sing, watching lighting bugs and the sun going down at my parents’ farm is forever etched in my mind. Something about the way the sun looked each night, you just knew it was back to school time.

As I got older, junior high into high school, many of those same feelings came back, except, I started paying a bit more attention to my new school clothes, sports and grades. Having my own locker, the sound of the bell ringing to switch classes and the smell of the “new gym” for volleyball practice are still very present. There was nothing like Friday night high school football games, lining up on the field as the starters were announced, the smell of hot chocolate and popcorn, watching the cheerleaders and the sound of a high school band, Frito pies and bonfires after each home game, painted faces, pep club rallies, homecoming court and painting the street in front of the high school for homecoming week.

As far back as I can remember, back to school also meant that I would be working, “housing tobacco,” most Saturday and Sunday mornings in August. This meant very early mornings, long, dirty hot days in the field, on the tractor or in the barn, and the best “tobacco lunches” made by Mother – enough for 20 men, and two gals, my older sister and I.