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Starting the school year off right
Aug 14, 2014 | 124 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Until earlier this year, I was not expecting what will happen Monday to happen for another year, but that’s the way it goes. Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Emily and I learned that Aaron will be able to start pre-kindergarten class this year at Forest instead of his first day of school being next year with kindergarten. I made sure to get all of his registration material submitted and we got his shots administered on his birthday last week so we’re all set. He can officially call himself a true Bearcat — our family’s first.

It is hard to believe he is starting school and will be riding with Emily just as I did when I got to seventh grade and rode with my mom who was a teacher. Taking it back a step further, my mom rode with her mom who was a teacher as well.

There was no kindergarten, or pre-K for that matter, in Winona Public Schools when I started first grade in 1977. I did kindergarten at Winona Academy. I still remember Mrs. Nix, who was my first grade teacher, standing at the entrance to her classroom on that first day.

So here again is my advice to students as they start a new school year:

Get started making good grades right from the beginning. If you’re already a straight-A or A and B student, great! Keep it up and keep trying to improve. Even if you are on top of the academic mountain, with opportunities available today, not even the sky is the limit.

Is there something you didn’t accomplish last school year? Now is the time to resolve to make it happen this time around.

If you’re further down the academic ladder, now is the time to set goals to improve.

Seniors: This is it my friends — your last year. If you think this year will fly by, you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until you’re in my position having just observed my 25th year out of Winona High School.

Soak up every detail that you can. One way I would propose to do that is start a journal. Write down everything that happens. I did this late into my senior year, actually starting second semester, with a planner book. At the end of each day, before going to bed, I wrote down everything I did that day. What tests I took, what grades I got, what events I attended, TV shows watched, whatever. Thoughts and feelings about what was happening at the time. I still have that book.

These are the little things. The little details that can get lost in memory with passage of time, but when you look back and read it years later, it all comes back. I wished I had started my journal earlier.

To all students: Make the most of every opportunity that you have before you. Life is precious, and it can fly fast, and it can end in the blink of an eye. It’s okay if you aren’t sure of what kind of career you want right now. Many students don’t finally decide until they are in college and change their major.

If you’re like I was, and you already know what kind of career you want while still in high school, make your preparations now in finding out what will be required of you to be successful.

Most of all students, I urge you to not live with regret. Some of you will graduate with honors at the end of this school year so you already know about making good grades. Others, like I did, may just get by. That is one of my all time regrets — that I could have done better and just didn’t. I could have been an honor graduate. What I wouldn’t give for another chance — but that’s life. You only get one. Do your best now while you can.

This is a new chapter starting in your life. Now is your chance to make needed corrections and chart your course. There will be successes and disappointments, but I pray for strong winds and smooth sailing for all of you. Carpe Diem! Godspeed.

Chris Allen Baker is a native of Winona and serves as the managing editor of The Scott County Times in Forest. He can be reached by e-mail at

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