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The Ruttle Report - Looking back on one's 'school daze'

The weekly 'outlook' by The Outlook's Derek Ruttle.
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The morning air is just a bit cooler now, with the odd presence of mist or fog.

The afternoon temperatures have dipped downward to the high teens or just past twenty at the most.

The roar of the buses can be heard at specific times of the day from Monday through Friday.

Yep, it's fall once again and a new school year has begun.

It's funny, one of my best friends just happened to pop into the office to say hi, armed with a Friday morning delivery of donuts, and we got to talking about the teachers that we had as teenagers going to Outlook High School.  As it turns out, only one or two of them is left from the crop of skilled educators that we had as students.  With that, another truth bomb hit us - we graduated 17 years ago.  Seriously, where does the time go?  Why does it seem to jet by when you really stop and think about it?

There are so many specific instances related to my school days that I can think back to; moments that have become so key to my heart for a litany of reasons, and not one of them actually related to something that happened in the classroom, ha ha!  No, the memories that are dear to me were things that happened in the hallways, by the lockers, outside the school building, on field trips, and of course, on weekends both regular and long, and eventually the summer breaks that arrived in between each grade that came and went along the academic journey.

I remember Kindergarten at Conquest School, and my class consisting of myself and two other kids.  By numbers alone, I can't say it was a whole lot of work for our teacher, Mrs. D, but I'm sure that Jared, Mark and I kept her busy with one task or another.  I can even recall one day where I showed up to school on the wrong day.  As you know, the Kindergarten schedule goes one day on, then one day off.  Turns out I came on the wrong day in what I can only assume must've been a slight confusion coming off a weekend into a Monday morning.  In those days, the Kindergarten class didn't get rolling with their day until Mrs. Adair dismissed us to head into the other classroom.  There I was, waiting at the back of the Grade One classroom by myself.  No Mark, no Jared.  Soon enough, my presence caught the eye of a quizzical Mrs. Adair, who let me know I was there on the wrong day.  Whoops.

I remember so many little things that made going to school in a small community like Conquest so enjoyable and memorable.  The Christmas concerts were always a blast.  Jam Can Curling at the Conquest rink was a hoot.  Track and field days were always fun.  Finally, the two-day trip down to Regina for the whole school was an epic way to end the long, storied history of this iconic building.  We were sad to see it go, our parents were mad to see it go, but there was nothing that could be done.  Such is life sometimes.

I remember the nerves and anxiety over attending Grade Six at Outlook Elementary School.  By the fall of 1996, both Conquest and Macrorie kids were now being bussed to Outlook, making for an inflated student body.  Luckily, the nerves gave way to new friends and new experiences.

I remember how downright fun my Grade Eight year was at Outlook High School.  Now, I need to prefix this by saying that I'm referencing my FIRST stab at taking Grade Eight.  My buddies Kevin, Brock, Lawrence and I were routinely partners in pretty much every class project, and we really did our best to create some capitivating imagery because most of the time, we scripted something and then shot it with the school's video camera.  It was a blast.

I remember how scared I was heading into my second year of Grade Eight.  I was held back a year, meaning my friends were going to advance while, to me, it felt like I was stuck on pause.  For that entire summer of 1999, I was a nervous wreck and I pretty much ignored my friends and stuck to myself because I didn't want to have to explain that I wasn't going to be joining the rest of them in Grade Nine.  Then came the first day of school, and I remember a bit of shame came over me as the rest of my friends realized I was held back.  They never let me feel bad about it, though.  They just accepted it and we all found a way to move on.

I remember making the friends that I still have today that same school year.  It wasn't that long before I found a way to open up to guys like Kyle, Chris, Alex, Jon, and Mitch.  When I did, they reciprocated and I'll always be grateful for that.  Friendships come and go, and they certainly have over the years, but I'm happy to say that Kyle, Chris, Alex and I are still very close to this day.  It's odd how it took me failing Grade Eight to be paired with the guys who would turn out to be my best friends on Earth.  It's funny how life works sometimes.

Whether it's embracing the ups or coming to terms with the downs that will accompany each school year, I hope that kids know that in the end, it'll help shape them into the adults they'll become.

My small piece of advice to any young kids who are nervous about those first few days of school is simple: don't overthink it.  Everyone else is in the same place you are, and you're all just trying to figure things out together.  You'll find some new friends, and they may just turn out to be the best people to come into your life.  If it happened to me, it can happen to you, too.

When all is said and done, I suppose time will fly by when you're busy living your life, regardless of what stage you're at right now.  It'll cruise on by when you're a young kid, or a moody teenager, or a young adult, or when you're well into your 30's.  You just have to remember that it's your job to make the time count.

Make those memories special, kids.

I hear the bell ringing.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.