There has been a major change in the world since I was a young boy just a few years ago. That change deals with our education system and the starting date for school.

School used to be out by Memorial Day and not start back until after Labor Day. It was sensible and gave good markers to go by for a child. That was the unwritten — yet carved in a child’s mind — law of the day. You knew school was about over so you started going barefoot about the middle of May and didn’t think of wearing shoes again until your mama said you had to because school was about to begin. Even then some of the kids came to school without shoes for a week or so until their new shoes got broken in.

Yet I hearing the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth by our teachers as they either prepare for school or already have students in the classroom. I see on Facebook where sad-faced kids are holding up fingers or signs to show what grade they are in this year. Mamas have to have the obligatory pictures and the kids hate them. So there they stand in shorts and flip-flops all dressed for a wonderful year of learning. The teachers are dressed in full-body armour and wonder why they ever choose this profession.

Labor Day is still a month away and in a child’s psyche there is this question of what went wrong? The summer used to be three full months of freedom, fun and friends. Now by the time baseball, camps and Vacation Bible School are over, it’s school time. There was very little time to just be a kid and walk barefoot in a creek, climb trees and hang out.

Some of them, bless their hearts, had a summer reading list they had to complete so there was no mental down time either.

At least the kids can dress more casually than they used to. I can still remember my new blue jeans and tennis shoes and how hot they were on that first day of school. Shorts weren’t allowed so you wore those heavy clothes and prayed for fall weather. Even in high school, football practice didn’t start until the middle of August and now the first game is played in the heat of the summer. It starts so early heat timeouts had to be introduced to avoid heat strokes. Yes sir, things have changed.

Guess what? The church has a ministry called Sunday School that goes year-round. Every Sunday there is a Bible class for students to get an eternal education. There are no starting and stopping dates because God’s Word is alive and real and requires daily reading. The church’s education ministries are designed to help students grow in the knowledge of morality and values. The secular schools are limited in teaching absolutes when it comes to these issues but the Body of Christ is well-equipped to fill this role. We can start our community schools on any date that suits a particular curriculum but the absolutes of God are never restricted to calendars. Being in Sunday School is a privilege and opportunity every person has if only they would take advantage of them.

Well, I guess I had better set a Sunday where we recognize and pray for our teachers and students as school starts. The kids need it for endurance and the teachers need it for courage and patience. I think I’ll wait on that Sunday until after Labor Day just out of nostalgia. 

Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City whose column appears in The Outlook each Friday.