More than just the store ads say it now: Back to School.
For most students in Hood River, Sept. 6 is the first day of school for 2011-12.
The return of the school year brings a definite vitality to our lives.
Students come and go to school, schedules change as the school day rules the week - and evenings and weekends, too - and people's conversations are filled with references to school events, sports and all the activities that come with the scholastic year.
Look for changes this year at neighborhood schools, including May Street, which will have an added portable, a safer playground and new solar panels. Pine Grove remains a place for the local community - even though its overall function as a building has changed dramatically - thanks to playground equipment, including parts moved from Frankton School, which is closed and will be sold.
Going Back to School can affect you whether you have children or not. Schools are part of our neighborhoods and events ranging from Homecoming parades to fundraisers reach beyond the school grounds.
And there will be plenty of fundraisers this year; the sobering side of Back to School is the $2.2 million in budget cuts, along with the loss of nine jobs and the reduction of employee hours in the Hood River County School District, part of a painful budget process last spring.
But despite that, the new school year enhances the pulse of community life. And the vibrancy of a new school year need not be limited to families with children 18 and under.
This is Back to School time for anyone who chooses it.
The Hood River Community Education fall-winter catalog is scheduled to be out soon, but you can register for classes in advance at www.hrcommunityed.org beginning immediately!
In the next two weeks, you can choose from classes such as Pilates, home canning or tennis.
You can find out about parenting classes and sign up for preschools.
There are "classes" that are actually day-long outings, such as a salmon spawning and hawk migration site visit.
The choices run the age gamut from Manners for Kids (ages 6-8) to AARP Driver Safety for Drivers 50 and Over.
They range from the silly (Messy, Gooey Fun) to the serious (Paralegal Tutoring).
Community Ed attempts to keep the class costs reasonable; some are free. It's hard to put a cost on learning. Sometimes the only expense is giving up whatever else it was you had planned for that day or evening. The key is that the opportunities are there.
In the words of Henry Ford, "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80."