Time for the annual back-to-school column! 

The start of the school year is marked by many things — streets and sidewalk crossings are repainted, school signs start appearing, sales on clothing and school supplies. My favorite was the sales on school supplies, which gave me a chance to stock up for the year, so no excuses could be made about having no paper to do one’s homework.

When I attended grade school, school supplies were relatively simple: paper, pencils, crayons, folders, erasers and glue, usually the paste kind. Today is a whole different thing. There is The List. I saw one of those lists at a local store and watched as a harried mother tried her best to stay on task getting the items requested by her child’s teacher. The number of folders needed, the colors they had to be, which eliminated many of the cutesy folders I liked. The pencils, #2 of course, could not be purchased at certain stores because they did not sharpen well. 

Include in your list colored pencils and markers You must have the correct number of crayons, glue sticks, the correct paper, be it college-ruled, wide-ruled or primary. No pens unless you were in a certain grade and then maybe include a red pen for correcting. One of the most important would be hand sanitizers and boxes of tissue and, from a teacher’s viewpoint, the hope that students would use both, particularly the tissue.

Students go off today with a backpack heavier than many pieces of luggage. We had what were called “school bags,” sort of a kids’ version of a briefcase. We had tin lunch boxes with a thermos lined with glass that broke. Today there are a variety of ways one can tote lunch from home, and juice boxes that neither leak nor break. 

Was happy to see they still use flash cards, best way to learn math facts. 

The first day of school is, for many, a day of excitement and some tears — and that’s just from the parents. Remember sending my children off on the first day and insisting they have two sharpened pencils and a folder with paper. That was met with some resistance, but I wanted them to look prepared. 

Honestly, no matter how many pencils, crayons, or papers they may bring with them are we, or they, ever fully prepared for what lies ahead?

Good luck at school, no matter what your year or grade.