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Chuck Brooks' column: Back to school

Four down. A hundred plus to go.

Yup. School is under way. The first weekend has arrived. There aren't a lot of teachers who need it!

Tuesday began with only freshmen for the first three and a half hours. It was a nice opportunity for the ninth graders to get a feel for the building without having to deal with the upperclassmen in the crowded halls. Students attended a shortened version of the school day that morning with classes only 25 minutes long. The upperclassmen arrived at 11. For the remainder of the day, the freshmen had lunch and attended several large-group sessions which we believe are key to success at the start of their high school career. The upperclassmen hit lunch and also attended sessions; they too went through an abbreviated school day. Then came Wednesday.

I will be teaching honors English nine this year as well as English 10. My largest class is 34 students, which is better than other classes who have 40 to a room. However, 34 isn't a healthy size for a classroom if a product is going to be delivered. To begin with, everyone who is IN education knows how difficult it is to maintain that many teenagers in a room. I, personally, know when I try to teach writing to that many students, it's an overwhelming situation for all involved. If you've never taught writing or had to learn how to write at that age in a room with that many bodies, trust me. It's a mountain in the way of a destination. It is, as they say, what it is.

On Friday, students attended our first pep fest of the year and, as always, it's held outside. As I write this, however, remember; it hasn't happened yet, so if the weather wasn't conducive, then we would be or were inside. So confusing, isn't it? Ha. However, a pep fest outside is an awesome event to behold. Students leave the building and walk to the stadium. They file into their proper places. Each class knows where they sit. The marching band performs their show for the student body to kick off the welcome back rally. We've had awesome days out there for this pep fest each year. It's our student body at their best. Never an issue. Just a lot of harmless energy!

Next weekend, there will be 10 times the energy in the stadium as it will be the annual Marching Band Festival with 18 bands and all their fans filling the RHS stadium. I've been fortunate enough to announce the festival all the years it's been held. It truly is a total blast for me, and the fans love the music and the marching. This year, for the second year, it will be under the lights once again, beginning at 5 pm. If you've never been, you need to be!

Then, the next big item on the docket will be Homecoming, happening during the final week of September. Students love the week. It takes us all back to that time in high school I think many of us enjoyed. Once it's over, September is behind us. It will surely be a quick month.

We held our yearly open house for all parents this past week. If you have never attended, parents attend their son or daughter's homeroom, where they get initial information about school, and that lasts all of 15 minutes. Then the parents go on a mock-up of a normal school day, following their child's schedule hour by hour. Each class that night was 10 minutes long — long enough for us to tell the parents a little about the class. Along with everything I had to quickly share with them, I gave them this piece of advice, and it's how I'd like to close out this week's chat with you.

As adults, we need to help students/kids OWN their decisions. If we want them to move into the next phase of their lives standing a chance at being successful, they need to understand there will always be consequences to their actions. Whether it's forgetting homework or plagiarizing an essay; whether it's skipping a class or skipping a day; whether it's using their cell phone when they shouldn't or speaking disrespectfully to a faculty/staff member. The young man or woman does not need someone making excuses for them. On the same note, they don't need to be beaten down for making bad choices. Someone once told me if we learn from our mistakes, they weren't mistakes at all. They will screw up. We all did. What follows is what really matters.

It's the start of NFL football this weekend. College football began last weekend. All is right with the world. Go Badgers! Go Packers! And yes. I'm going now. Ta ta!