First Day of School, 2016

And Athena is ready for it!

This is Athena’s senior year, and this year she’s doing something a little different; basically, having exhausted the possibilities of her lovely but very small local rural high school, this year Athena is taking classes at the local community college. She’ll be getting credit toward her high school graduation and also, as I understand it, getting transferable credits for whatever four year college she attends next year. Or something, I’m honestly not 100% clear on this. But, the point is: She’s a senior, she’s off to her first day of classes today. Thus begins another school year. Indeed, her final school year before college.

I’ve been doing these “first day of school” pictures since Athena’s first day of school in the first grade (see below), with a couple of years missed when I was off on a tour (we also missed the first day picture for Athena’s second grade year, on account she was at Disneyland that day; I think it’s a good excuse). It’s a little odd to think that this is the last one I’m likely to do — I’m very unlikely to be there on her first day of classes for college, and I think we all agree this is probably a good thing. I wouldn’t call the moment bittersweet, since time passing is a thing and that’s all right. But it is a reminder that time does pass, and that just as there is a first time for everything, there is also a last. One chapter of Athena’s life, and ours, is coming to an end this school year. Time to get ready for the next chapters. I think they’ll read just as well. I’m excited to get to them.

42 Comments on “First Day of School, 2016”

  1. Awwww.. I have been looking through all of the first day of school photos of our twins this morning. Today is the first day as a Special Ed High School teacher for one of our girls!! Time does pass quickly but the pics bring us back to those milestones. I am verklempt this morning! Congrats to Athena and to her parents!

  2. I’m going to be doing the same from the other end of the continuum (1st day of Kindergarten) next week. I’m feeling feels about my kid leaving preschool, where he’s been since he was just shy of 2. Parenting, hits you right in the feels! I hope Athena gets a lot out of the community college. Like real college with training wheels.

  3. What a beautiful young woman Athena is! Not that you’re surprised by that, of course – her mother is just as beautiful.

    I send my best wishes to Athena for a spectacularly successful senior year, and an equally successful and smooth transition to college. It is hard to imagine anyone being better equipped than she is for both endeavors.

  4. I just took my oldest child’s 1st day of Kindergarten picture this morning. So we are just starting this journey. You post made me think about how much the world has changed since she was in 1st grade and you took the first picture and wonder how much it will change between now and his senior year. I’m glad she gets to take college credits and have that count. My cousin did that and worked really well for her.

  5. Great picture. I wasn’t disciplined about talking first day of school photos for my daughter. (She’s off to college in a couple of weeks)

    My dad was more organized and I have a whole set of first day of school photos of me and my sisters taken in the same spot each year.

    Taking community college classes while in high school is a great transition to university. Long time ago, I found it helpful to grok that in college, no one cares if you pass or fail or even if you show up.

  6. I did not make it to my youngest’s first day of college this year. I was sad to miss it … but like you, felt it was for the best. Perhaps because his older sister’s first day was marked by her father walking alone around campus with tears streaming down his face. Yes better for everyone …

  7. Happy First Day to Athena! Best wishes to your brilliant daughter — and to you.

  8. But you still are going to burst into her dorm room/apartment with camera and cake on her birthday, right? I wonder if she’ll warn her significant other first.

  9. Oldest is starting undergrad today and living at home. It has its pluses and minuses, but separation angst is definitely not in the equation.

    Congratulations to Athena for getting a sweet gig for senior year. Hope she enjoys it.

  10. I’ve been on the teaching end of dual-credit courses for years. The way it works here is that the students are enrolled in the college class and then the high school uses the college grade for the high school grade. The college credits are awarded by the community college and transfer to wherever Athena goes after college. It’s a very inexpensive way to knock out some general education courses.

    The tough part for parents is when the college visits start.

  11. We had always done the first day of school pictures, too. Last year, our youngest took her own picture in her mirror on her first day of classes at college and sent it to us.

    Time does pass. I want my kids to succeed and live their lives, of course. But shifting to an empty nest (mostly) has been particularly difficult for me.

  12. That kinda tugged at my heart, John. My son will be a junior this year(school starts on 09/07 out here) and it’s sort of a bug-meet-windshield moment to realize he’s only got one more after this. But you’re right is just shifts to something else. And who knows where that goes. Time will tell but not a minute sooner.

  13. I got credit my Senior year of H.S for math (Calculus) which I took at the local college. I also got 3 college credits to “transfer” to my university when I got there. When I arrived, they said that since Calculus was a primary part of my degree (B.S.Engineering) they only took transfer or AP credit from Cal Tech, MIT or Stanford (I was at Case Institute, Cleveland) but I could test out of it but would still have to take another class for the credits. I retook Calc-1 to get an easy “A”.

  14. Good job, Athena! And I have to say I am quite envious of her beautiful hair. Not to mention how grown up she is now. Clearly, her parents have done an excellent job raising her.

    I transferred during high school into a small school that didn’t offer as many years of a foreign language as my previous school system did, plus I’d finished up all my requirements to graduate except for one (chemistry), so I took that single class at the high school and then took college classes at a local four-year school my final semester of high school, especially more advanced French. It was great fun, and I ended up with an entire semester’s worth of transferable credits, too. So I hope Athena makes everything she can of this opportunity to get a head start on her college career and speed up her entrance into the big wide world, where I expect great things from her eventually!

  15. “…this year Athena is taking classes at the local community college. She’ll be getting credit toward her high school graduation and also, as I understand it, getting transferable credits for whatever four year college she attends next year. Or something, I’m honestly not 100% clear on this.”

    A community college that I taught at 20 years ago had a similar program with some of the classes being taught at the high school as well as at the CC. There tended to be fairly severe restrictions on transferability as an earlier poster commented on. These restrictions tended to be glossed over by the CC. I also saw some serious academic failures from the teaching side. Many if not most of the hard science and math classes were not up to the quality of a good university program. Very much a buyer beware affair.

  16. *breaks into a verse of “Sunrise, Sunset”*

    They grow so fast, don’t they?

    Congratulations, Athena.

  17. I thought photographs proved the world was monochrome until sometime in the mid-twentieth century, and then became full of color. Surely your daughter isn’t that old, and yet: here we have an early picture of her in black-and-white, and a more recent picture of her in living color.

    Still, I think she’s taken the transition from monochrome to color in her stride.

    And maybe she’ll continue the tradition next year after she goes off to college by sending you a selfie on her first day of classes!

  18. having gone through this already with my four kids all I can say is just wait until next year when she goes off the college and you and the wife have the entire house to yourself. The possibilities are endless ;-)

  19. My youngest left last week for her junior year of college. I will never get used to her driving 1000 miles alone. If CC credits work in Ohio like they do here in VA, they will be guaranteed good at any state school, and probably good at most of the private schools in the state. If she follows in your footsteps at U Chicago it’s less likely they’ll accept the credits.

    But she’ll still be better prepared for college having done the CC thing. Both my kids did it and I think it made a big difference in being ready for freshman year.

  20. Congratulations to the family. I did the same thing – went to college instead of HS my senior year. Only four students were allowed to do it that year, and then they cancelled the program – the HS did, not the college. Never knew why. Meanwhile the HS forgot I was enrolled and had to scramble to process me for graduation. LOL Athena should make an appearance from time to time just to remind the administrators!

  21. Oddly, your recent posts are double-dated, and not always the same date, something I’m sure your sharp-eyed daughter has already noted.

  22. I did a similar thing my final year in High School. It worked out well. Best wishes to your daughter, I hope she has fun.

  23. Question: I’ve often wondered this and got conflicting info.: what are the ages/etc. for different school levels in America? How *does* college fit in, anyway?
    In Aust., it’s kindergarten/pre-school for 3 & 4-yos, then Primary starts with Prep (between 4 and 6-yo), then Year 1, then continues until the end of Year 6. High school is Year 7 (around 12/13-yo) to Year 12 (17/18). Then we go off to uni, sometimes taking a gap year between high school and then.

  24. I spent my senior high school year as a freshman at USC (Calif. version) in a program run by the Sociology Dept. We were rats in a maze that they studied thoroughly. Athena’s doing it in a MUCH better way, as any worthwhile events at her high school will still be available to her. I missed things like Prom and football and was practically a stranger when I showed up at graduation.

    Here’s a Portland note from the guy in the red shirt at the Doubleclicks concert you assisted at at Powell’s Cedar Hills: Ursula Le Guin Has Earned a Rare Honor. Just Don’t Call Her a Sci-Fi Writer. It’s in today’s NY Times:

  25. I went to high school in Ohio and did the post-secondary option (as it was called then – maybe still is?) my senior year. The courses were regular college courses from an accredited institution, so they transferred fully to my 4-year university. However, depending on the courses taken and the university’s policies, she might only be able to get generic transfer credits that don’t align with a particular general ed or major program requirement. Since I’m guessing she’s doing it for her own amusement and not to get out of college quicker, I suspect that it probably doesn’t matter much to her either way. For my part, I loved it – my classmates didn’t treat me any differently than any other student and it allowed to to arrange my schedule so that I was done at noon 4 days a week.

  26. “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
    – Rabbinical Saying
    “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.” -Kahlil Gibran

    And a Shaw (either Robert or George Bernhard, just too lazy to fact-check) said something to the effect that a successful parent does not raise a child, but raises a successful adult.

    Not my words, but thoughtful.

    You seem like the kind of parents who know what you’re doing until she surprises you. Daily? Having raised a few, the surprises will continue, and you will learn to tiptoe around some stuff, if you haven’t been learning that already.

    She seems like a young woman with a long and joyous future. May we present it to her as our gift.

    Be proud. . . as if you have to be told.


  27. How is she going to rebel against her parents when she gets to uni? Become a Young Conservative? Become a MRA?

  28. Community College is a good idea, even for high school grads. We preach it to all our grand’s. It is usually less expensive than a four year college, gets all those basic college courses out of the way (with proper planning) and gives them a taste for college education styles. Obviously this all depends on the quality of the CC and whether its credits are transferable to a desirable four year institution. With the cost of higher ed these days it helps take a bit of the burden off (parents and offspring).

  29. As long as you don’t insist on the transfer-ability of credit CC is a great option to expand educational opportunities is smaller school districts. Do be aware that if the ENG 101 or the MATH 101 (first real college level courses, not remedial) course you take at CC does not have the same course goals as the required first year courses at the 4-year college of your choice you may not be able to use that course to replace the first year courses. I know plenty of people who have relied on transfer credit and have been VERY disappointed and discouraged that their courses did not transfer.

  30. Not all colleges accept dual enrollment classes for college credit. But sometimes they will let students use these courses to get out of prerequisites. I suggest she save the syllabuses and any writings/exams in case she needs evidence. Also, if there is an AP exam for an equivalent course, she should consider taking it.
    As long as we’re talking colleges, if her favorite college offers an Early Action or Early Decision program, it is very much in her best interests to apply early. The odds of getting in for early admission are significantly higher than the odds for regular admission.

  31. Some kids take more after one parent or the other, but Athena looks like a precise 50% blend of you and Krissy. No mistaking who this kid is descended from.

  32. Some private colleges won’t accept the transfer of CC+ or post-secondary credits, others do. I think the state of Ohio requires the state schools accept the accredited community college classes, but I could be wrong… Every two years (and every kid) has had a different set of rules to work with here in Ohio.

    But congrats to Athena – the change up is a great thing for her to experience while still at home.

  33. Kimkra, et al:

    To be honest, I’m not especially concerned if the credits transfer. If they do, that’s great. If they don’t, well, we’ve promised to fund her through undergrad in any event.

  34. You may not be there for first day of college classes, but you may very well be there for moving in, moving out, moving in again, etc. This even goes on after college, as it did this past weekend when we moved our own daughter into her apartment near her first job out of college. And you’ll still be paying lotsa bills, too!

  35. Myzania: We use college and university interchangeably in many cases. High School is 14-17/18 years of age, College/University is often 18 and up, though depending on what month you were born, you could be 17 in college, I was.

  36. Myzania: To continue Darkdreamyr’s comment, in the US, kindergarten is usually 5 year olds (anything before then would be pre-school), then first grade at age 6 through twelfth grade at age 18. In my part of the US, first through sixth grade is called either grade school or primary school, then junior high is seventh through ninth, and high school is tenth through twelfth. I understand some areas roll seventh and eighth grades into grade school and ninth into high school.

    There’s usually a cut-off date, kids born after that date have to wait until the next year to start kindergarten. My nephew just barely made it under the wire to start kindergarten because he was a preemie, which meant he was a year behind the rest of his class as far as development went. If he’d gone full-term, he would have started school the next year and been at the proper development level. (As it was, he repeated kindergarten the next year, and did much better because he was physically and mentally ready for school.)