Itís been quite a few years since we celebrated the last black high school reunion. At that time, there were a number of former black high schools in Mid-Missouri. Now, a lot of them like Hubbard have had their buildings converted to other uses.
I enjoyed the time I spent in all-black schools. To be sure our equipment was always second-rate and our books were always used, but what we lacked in supplies we more than made up for in high spirits. I will be forever grateful to the countless number of teachers and administrators who gave their best on our behalf.
When I read the papers and learn about the problems besetting parents and the communities concerning schools these days, I frankly feel left out. I really have a difficult time trying to relate to the lack of books that some children have and the lack of opportunities to read that some children are exposed to. Surely, books are everywhere and most children seem to have nothing but time. Havenít children always been out of school during the summer?
What I am trying to address here is the so-called loss of academic skills experienced by children during summer vacation. I remember school and summer vacations. Sometimes, I had a lot to do on vacation and sometimes I didnít, but there were always opportunities to learn. I remember, for example, in the fifth grade my best friend and I ran a manís secondhand store on 12th street in the city for the summer. We polished our math skills, we gained business experience dealing with customers, and we learned how to take care of ourselves. Education was all around us, lessons were waiting to be learned.
We were poor kids. Our parents had very little in the way of fun experiences to provide for us. We were living on the edge. But we took advantage of every opportunity to advance ourselves. Sometimes there were opportunities to sell magazines and we sold magazines. We took advantage of every opportunity to learn.
We walked to the public library. Surely, parents do not allow their children to play video games constantly. Even parents who work have the opportunity to provide lessons for their children to study and they can buy books at the rummage sales and secondhand stores.
To be certain, itís hard for parents to provide great opportunities for their children when they donít have the money to spend. But it helps to be creative. Some children learn a poem a week, help their parents plan family meals or learn to sew. There are all kinds of activities that help children improve their skills.
Learning can be fun and there are all kinds of opportunities to learn in the summer. Take advantage and grow while you can. Youíll be glad you did.