Normally I write my back to school column a little later in August. However, there are many tell-tale signs that school is starting earlier for some this year. As a matter of fact, Riverside-Brookfield High School students will have their first day of school on Aug. 15, the day next week’s edition of The Landmark hits the stands and mailboxes.

Some college students have packed their laptops, microwaves, small refrigerators, TV, clothing, plastic crates full of clothes and headed off to the halls of higher learning. These days, college students take far more items than I did when I traveled west to Salina, Kansas, with a matched set of luggage and a trunk. I didn’t have a TV, but I did have a typewriter; after all I was there to learn.

Another sign that school will soon begin is the posting of signs stating such, as if many parents haven’t already been counting the days. However, before sending the children off, you must get them all the essentials, which is more than the No. 2 pencils, a pink Pearl eraser, a box of Crayolas (with the required number of crayons), a folder containing paper (wide ruled) and a box of tissue – all of which had the child’s name on them. And you need to fit everything into a school bag or a bag of some sort.

Today, that bag is a backpack. The generations coming up are stronger – they have to be just to be able to carry those packs full of gear. Now if you wonder what is crammed into them, be assured there are the aforementioned essentials and a whole lot more.

Go to one of the stores featuring a back-to-school section and just watch the confused parents trying to get what is required from a list. While the teacher may want plain folders, the student would like to have one with Justin Bieber on it – that’s when the arguments start.

All items, including many not on the list but wanted by the student are then crammed into the backpack, and that is before any books. So that is why we see so many backpack-toting kids walking to and from school, bending over as if they are looking for some dropped change. If they tried to stand up too straight, they might fall backwards.

So off they go, we wish them well and hope they listen to their teachers. As always the kids believe that summer vacation from school was too short – though some parents may not agree.