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Equipped with Hope and Know-How

Those school supplies last a lifetime

     Once the ritual of going back to school is no longer yours, it falls into the realm of nostalgia.
     Most bad memories fade, courtesy of pain’s blessed inability to be recalled in its actual intensity. The third-grade bully, the looming memory test on the mathematics tables and the hours of confinement are more likely to stay in the past as facts than to haunt the present.
     The good memories, however, awaken with each new school year. 
     That’s at least how it is with me.
     I can’t say I want to trade places with grandson Jack, a junior at Broadneck High School; granddaughter Elsa, a sophomore in Annapolis High’s International Baccalaureate program; or granddaughter Ada, a seventh-grader in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves. Still, I miss the formal beginning each new school year brings.
     You enter a new grade, perhaps a new school, with new challenges, new things to learn. You’re equipped for the job with new tools: fresh pencils with sharpened points and erasers, crayons standing at attention in bright-colored rows, binders that expand to hold an encyclopedia of knowledge.
     Of course you and I know it’s not so simple. School children do not live in Eden. Bullies persist, even in modern school environments that try to combat them. We don’t all learn the same way, and none of us learn everything easily and happily. The problems of our homes, communities and world follow us to school.
     And for many students, this new school year brings a new level of insecurity. 
     If you doubt any of this, just read the headlines in your morning newspaper or turn on the TV news. That will sober you up.
     Which is my point. It’s good to know the reality of our world, for how else can we improve it. It’s just as good to keep that sense of possibility we hope inspires each child going back to school.
     Bay Weekly’s newspapering mission is to inspire you to improve your world through hope. 
     So this week, when Maryland’s children go back to school, we bring you an issue heavy on stories of people whose schooling has inspired them to improve the world.
     You’ll read about DaJuan Gay, the 20-year-old Annapolitan community activist running for a seat on the City Council — while commuting to college at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. We are not supporting him as a candidate over opponent Shaneka Henson, who has the endorsement of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. But we are impressed by the way he’s putting ideas into action.
     At the other end of the age spectrum is 88-year-old philosopher Eva Brann, who begins her 60th year as a tutor at St. John’s College with the same enthusiasm that inspired her in 1957.
     You’ll also find stories of schools and school buses working for the good of our Bay and planet while educating our children for a world that needs the best help it can get.