Sunday, August 26, 2018

Summer Ends, School Begins

Old Main at North Park University
     Today was the last Sunday of August. For the past 18 years, the last Sunday of August have been special. While living in Connecticut, I would attend and occasionally play at the St. Gregory the Enlightener Church Picnic in White Plains, NY. Upon moving to Chicago, that tradition continued at the St. James Armenian Street Fair. For all but three of these Sundays, the weather has been spectacular, perfect to be at an Armenian Picnic, listening to music or performing, having some delicious kebab and other Armenian delicacies, and chatting with friends.
     Today, we played at the St. James Street Fair. It was not the typical glorious weather but rather hot and muggy. Even the welcome breezes coming off Lake Michigan were hot. But, it was a great day of playing the music we love for our people. We sounded great, everyone enjoyed, so overall the day was glorious. It was a beautiful way to end the summer.
     Of course, summer doesn’t officially end until September 20th. I am well aware of this. But, the day before school begins is the unofficial last day of summer. When I was growing up, Labor Day was the unofficial end of summer as the Detroit Public Schools always started the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day. Somehow today, schools and universities seem to start before Labor Day. To the kid in me, that seems so wrong and unfair. It is wrong and unfair to the point where I think Congress should enact legislation making it illegal for schools to start earlier. Of course, that will never happen.
     My children never experienced the after-Labor Day start of classes. They always started classes on the last Monday in August. Hence, the wonderful picnic day of the last Sunday in August has become my new unofficial end of
Set-up and ready to play at St. James
in Evanston.  Mike Adajian photo.
     I am starting my 5thyear as a full-time faculty member at North Park University. We always start classes on the last Monday in August. So, tomorrow is my first day of school and I excited for it. I get to meet incoming freshmen and other students who will be in a course of mine for the first time. I get to greet students who I already know who are taking a second or third class from me. It is exciting for them and equally exciting for me… that same kid in me.
     I am excited because this is the best job I have ever had. It is far from being the best paying job, but it is the most fulfilling. It is where I feel I belong and enjoy it more than any other position I have held. My friend, colleague, and our interim Dean in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management, Professor Ann Hicks, was clearly thinking along the same lines and posted the following in Facebook:

Tomorrow I begin my 17th academic year at North Park University. Over the last couple of weeks, people have asked me if I was ready for the new year. Each time I responded with a resounding, “Absolutely!” (Note that I took that as meaning was I emotionally and mentally ready, NOT were all my classes prepped and ready to go! Otherwise, my answer would have been quite different.) 
These conversations have made me realize how truly lucky I am to LOVE what I do for work! Is it sometimes frustrating? Of course! Do I always agree with the decisions that my institution makes? Of course not! That is life! More importantly: Do I thrive on being able to influence the lives of my students - both inside and outside the classroom? Without doubt! For that privilege, I am and always will be thankful!!
I do believe Ann perfectly captured the essence of why I am excited for the first day of class.

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