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Vogt's Notes: 'Back to school' means something different to each of us

Over the Labor Day weekend, I discovered what different people of different ages think of that momentous day for students, parents, school staff and - well, really everyone. Illustration

Tuesday, Sept. 5, marked the first day of school for most area students. Over the Labor Day weekend, I discovered what different people of different ages think of that momentous day for students, parents, school staff and - well, really everyone.

For example, on my early Tuesday morning walk, my friend - whose children are older and weren't embarking on their first day of school - said she planned to leave a little earlier for work to take into account the extra traffic on the roads with school buses and teenage drivers on their way to school.

I hadn't thought of that. It's not fun to get "stuck" behind a school bus when you're trying to get to work on time, so I thought it was great planning to leave early.

But remember, if you do get behind a school bus, always obey the laws and stop when the lights flash and the stop sign arm comes out. And always be on the lookout for kids waiting for the bus. It's far better to be a bit late and keep our students safe.

Monday night I visited my 20-year-old daughter at work. Her co-worker started his senior year of high school Tuesday. I joked that he should have been home getting ready for bed rather than working past 10 p.m. He didn't appear to be overly excited about his last first day of school. I offered to swing by and take that first-day-of-school picture, but he didn't take me up on the offer.

Classes begin this week for my niece, who is starting her first year at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. I saw pictures of the view from her dorm room and of the stages of decorating her room. Those first-year students were supposed to spend Saturday at the Minnesota State Fair or the Science Museum of Minnesota.

My college never offered such fun outings. And even though my first year of college was many years ago, my niece's activity brought back great memories of my freshman year at Dahl Hall at what was then called Moorhead State University.

Her mom was kept in the loop all weekend via text message, Snapchat and FaceTime, which also reminded me of just how long ago I attended college. Back then, the only way my parents could contact me was to be in my dorm room when the phone - which had a cord - rang. Similarly, the only way I could reach them was for them to be home when I called.

Today, it's hard to imagine a world without cell phones, emails or computers for instant communication.

I did have someone at my house start school Tuesday. My daughter's friend who is staying with us started a job with the Brainerd School District. She was nervous, which is completely understandable since she just graduated two years ago. How different to walk into a school with teachers as your peers instead of your supervisors, and with students not much younger than yourself as your charges.

I have to admit that I haven't missed the back-to-school shopping these past couple of years. I don't get nervous or start feeling overwhelmed when I see the school supplies show up at area stores. I wasn't envious when we drove north past Albertville on Monday and saw the horrendous number of cars lined up down the highway waiting to exit to shop at the outlet stores.

The really great part is my bank account no longer feels the hit from buying school supplies, school clothes and school lunches.

Regardless, no matter your age or your status, the first day of school is still an exciting time.