Nancy Roman

The First Day Of School!

In honor of the new school year, here’s a post from five years ago:




When I was a kid, do you know what my favorite day of the year was?

Yeah, okay, Christmas. (Good guess.) After all, I was a little girl who loved dolls and clothes and anything wrapped up. And unwrapping stuff. And tree-trimming and angel decorations. And parties and singing. And staying up late and getting up early. And Christmas lights, and cards in the mail. And tiny hot dogs wrapped in dough. And cookies. And having my hair curled. And money.  And pie.

That’s pretty hard to beat.

So you do know what my second favorite day was?

The first day of school.

I loved summer – long hot days filled with swimming and biking, and warm evenings with night-time hide-and-seek and fireflies and the ice cream man and late bedtimes.

But by September I was ready to go back to school.

And that first day of school was so very thrilling.

First Day of First Grade. (me in the middle)

I went to parochial school that required homely navy jumpers. But we didn’t have to wear our uniforms the first day. I got to wear something pretty. And new too. My mother would buy me a special first-day-of-school outfit. No hand-me-downs for that day. And the whole school would go to Mass first, where I also got to wear a mantilla. A dress AND a lace headscarf. Very special. I loved that triangle of white lace, but if I could go back I’d like to wear my mother’s black lace mantilla. How cool.

I’d fidget all through the long Mass, and then Father What-Ever-His-Name-Was would come to the pulpit and start reading names.

“Grade One,” he’d start. “Sister Saint Adelaide:  Denise Nadeau, Stephen Bernier, Janice Houle…”  and all the way up to Eighth Grade.

And the children would get up as their names were called, and go stand by the Sister. And she’d line them up two by two and they’d march down the aisle and out the door and over to the big brick school across the street.

It was so exciting to find your new desk in your new classroom, and discover who would be your classmates for the year. Saint Anne School had two classes for each grade, and it took just that one day to be certain you had the better teacher and the best kids. You’d sneer at the “other class”, even if your former best friend was in it.

The September weather was fine and we’d go out at recess and run around the schoolyard. We had jump-ropes and cat’s cradles.

We’d get new textbooks. Well, not new, really – most of them were written about 1910. But they were new to us and we took them home in our new bookbag (I liked red plaid) and covered them that night with brown paper cut from old grocery bags. And I always had a new pencil case with ticonderoga pencils and a pink pearl eraser. And a protractor – though I had no idea what to do with it, except I could rub my pencil along the ridges and make a design on my new composition book.

Sister would give us lots of tests that first week to see what we knew. I sucked up like nobody’s business.

I got to write on the big old blackboard.

And be almost the last person standing in the spelling bee. Damn you, Andre Dorval.

Of course, it didn’t take long before I couldn’t wait until my third best day – the last day of school.

But that first day was so sweet.

I went to school until I was thirty. (My parents told their friends that I was majoring in Transferring.)

But that first day was glorious every single time.

When I retire, I am going back to school. I’ll find a class in an ancient brick building with heavy scratched-up desks and a real blackboard. The whole semester will be worth it for that first day.



  1. i love this!


    • Susan

      Hey – I wore your hand-me-downs on my first day of school. They were new to me, so I was OK with it (beat the thought of wearing the boys hand-me-downs!)


    • Thanks! So many sweet memories.


  2. I still remember from aeons ago, the first day at school after the summer break. Most of all I remember the first day after I moved on from primary school. How exciting and scary. A whole new world that quickly pulled me in and made me part of it for the next 6 years.


    • Oh yes… going from elementary school to high school was terrifying!


  3. You’re retired now. Time to go back to school!


    • I’m taking a Watercolor Painting class! I’m loving it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed reading your memories. Wish I could say I felt the same way, but I hated school from day one until the day before high school graduation!


    • I didn’t like grammar school or high school much – but that first day was special! College, though…. OMG, did I love it…. I stayed there as long as I could. I have a gazillion credits.


  5. Oh, memories of St. Anne’s School. My favorite first day of school, going into Freshman year at a Public School. Dad told me when I was in eighth grade, and a pretty good student, “If you’d like to go to St. Paul’s Parochial High School (newly built and first year opened), we’ll find the money” ME: “Are you kidding, I can’t wait to go to Central High”


    • I can just hear you saying that!


  6. daveyone1

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..


  7. Donna W.

    I love your stories, Nancy. Your illustrations are great, too. I love how the little girl behind the Nun looks just like you did when you were in first grade! Eager and sweet.


    • Thanks… I tried to draw the nun kind of depressed, but me happy! And I was!


  8. It’s really cool to see how school used to be like and how it is now.


    • I was in first grade in 1957….60 years ago! And I remember it so well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You look so young! And photographs back then are way more vintage and pretty. I would love to have my picture taken with those cameras.


  9. A pretty new outfit, a box of pencil crayons, a plaid pencil case, a package of lined workbooks … the first day of school was my favourite too! And while I stopped ‘going to school’ when I was 20, I (eventually) became a college teacher, so I had many more ‘first days’ – every one of them special! I miss that (I still roam the ‘back to school’ aisles in the stores and pick up pencil crayons or a spiral bound notebook for ‘old times’ sake’!)


    • I bought a couple of pens last week!


  10. Rachel McAlpine

    What powerful memories you’ve evoked — even from those who hated school. It was always a very big day, and you can look forward to repeats when you are old: great plan.


    • The start of something brand new was so exhilarating.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This was a great post, really liked it


  12. Reblogged this on mgshepard and commented:
    Thanks for sharing


    • Thank you for the re-blog!


      • I like to reblog things that I like sometimes.


  13. I have to admit to loving this day too, and when I became a teacher it was still my favourite day. Classroom all clean and shiny, new pictures on the walls, pencils sharpened to a fine point, new exercise books and clean paints. Then the doors would open and in would come all those noisy excited seven year olds and the adventure would begin again. Loved it!


  14. I still get a little thrill when the new school year starts and my schedule gets more structured again. It’s helpful to buy a few new supplies just to re-create that old excitement.


  15. Notyouraverageintrovert
  16. Thanks for reminding me of the thrill of first days….and I didn’t even like school all that much!


  17. You describe the way my girls are when the 1st day of school the years go by but things stay the same- excitement for the 1st day…It takes me back. I disliked just about everything about school and yet I looked forward to the 1st day. My 8 yr old put us on notice though he is happy to miss all of september and half of October if he can


  18. bo

    Reblogged this on Bobbi's Blog.


  19. millylaps

    wow..i dint like my first days in school though


  20. What wonderful memories. I liked the first day of school as well. Still love buying school supplies.



  1. The First Day of School!!!!–notquitecold: | By the Mighty Mumford

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