Mary A. Castillo
Summer’s end in Laguna is marked by the closing of the festival
grounds, the disappearance of the free trams and the three words that
spark anticipation in every school child: back to school.
As of this week, children with freshly sharpened pencils and new
backpacks returned to campuses that have changed much since they left
them in June. El Morro Elementary is still undergoing landscaping and
Thurston Middle and Top of the World Elementary schools are missing
“I don’t know too many parents who are seriously concerned about
the construction projects,” said Kirsten Thomas, president of the PTA
Council and mom to three returning students. “El Morro was really on
top of the safety issue so they know how to do it at the other
Thomas’ only worry about construction is how Lauren, her
seventh-grader, will handle toting sweaty gym clothes all day now
that the old gym building and its lockers are gone.
“Last year the trend was not to carry a backpack,” she said. “So I
wonder how they’ll deal with that.”
Overall emotions about returning to school ranged from enthusiasm
to dread and something in between.
“My high school student is frantically trying to finish his summer
homework that he had all summer to complete,” said Betsy Jenkins,
school board candidate.
In addition to reading three novels and reporting on them, as well
as studying five chapters of U.S. History, her son Christopher, 16,
also went through an intensive week of football training.
Otherwise Jenkins said that he’s excited to go back and see his
friends. She and her son spent the summer looking at colleges and
he’s determined to pull up his grades to the best of his ability. He
is also looking into SAT-prep courses to take in the spring.
However, children aren’t the only ones going back to school, so
are their parents.
“It’s hard to give up summer especially when we have to get up
early in the morning,” Thomas joked. “Most of the people I know are
trying to get as much beach time as possible.”
Ketta Brown, PTA president at Top of the World, is probably one of
the few parents who is really looking forward to the new school year.
Her youngest is excited about his first year in kindergarten.
“He’s excited about having his own backpack and especially his own
bus pass for the first time,” she said. “My eighth-grader is too cool
to care and my fifth-grader is a little more anxious about her last
year at Top of the World.”
However with all three children in school, Brown is optimistic
that she’ll have time dedicated to her PTA responsibilities and for
her work with the Friendship Shelter.
“School will make life a little easier for me because I’ll have
four hours to myself for the first time in years,” she said.
The bottom line for students and their parents is that it’s a
“The year is yours to make whatever it is that you want,” Jenkins