Writing a blog about elementary school and Junior Great Books yesterday got me thinking about the school district I attended, along with my three brothers.
Way back then (in the stone ages, hardee-har) Forest Lake was considered a rural area. Now it is a suburb of the Twin Cities, the traffic is horrific and I get crazy if I’m there for very long.
I grew up on a small hobby farm a few miles from town, off the frontage road where 35E and 35W come together. I started kindergarten at Forest View. Right next to Forest View was another elementary school, Forest Lake Elementary. The city mice kids went to Forest Lake, the country mice went to Forest View. Don’t ask me why.
The Forest Lake School District is absolutely huge; I think there are 10 or 11 elementary schools that feed into two junior highs that feed into one high school. By the time I graduated, there were over 400 kids in my class, but when I tell people that, they assume I’m from the cities, not one of the country mice.
It is just that the school district stretches for miles.
So, after a few years of going to Forest View, some genius got the idea to redistrict some of the elementary school lines, and a bunch of fresh-from-the-farm hicks, myself included, were suddenly going to school in Lino Lakes, a ritzy little town where the kids all wore little alligators on their shirts and designer jeans instead of flannel shirts and their brothers’ hand-me-down Wranglers. Talk about culture shock!
I know once they shifted us to Lino Lakes I spent the next four years standing or sitting in alphabetical order between Brian Ostlie and Bill Parker.
I was a shy enough kid, but the shift to a new school in third grade didn’t help. Luckily for me, some of the same kids I had riding the bus with all of my life were still part of my daily routine, and I always had my two big brothers and one little brother nearby.
I pulled out my class photos this morning (first grade is missing for some unknown reason), and took a close look at the group from second grade at Forest View compared to the group in third grade at Lino Lakes. There are a few faces in common, but not too many. Of course, there were two second grade classes at Forest View and three classes at Lino Lakes, so I’m sure some of my friends ended up in the same school, but with a different teacher.
In my second grade photo, standing directly in front of me is a little girl that would one day grow up to be my sister-in-law. That is pretty cute.
When I look over the photos, some names just pop out at me and others are a bit of a mystery. In ways I feel like that TV host from the show Romper Room (See? I am old).
“I see Randy and Holly and Robert (who married Holly) and Ron and Theresa and Mike and Bonnie and Darlene and Kenny and Butch and Rick.”
It goes on and on.
Romper stomper bomper boo.
Now that I have connected with so many of my former classmates via Facebook, it is especially fun to talk about those old days. I chatted a few months ago with one of the guys that grew up a few miles from me and made the shift from Forest View to Lino Lakes. It was funny, because I remember myself back then as kind of a spaz, but he remembers me as a funny, cute little girl. I think I like his version better.
Some of the kids I left behind at Forest View, I actually hooked up with again in junior high and high school. The meetings were always a bit tentative – after all, we hadn’t seen each other since we were 7 years old.
“Hey, don’t I know you?”
Some people remembered me just because of my unusual name. Being the only Justine in a 100 mile radius has its moments, but with a nickname of Justy…yikes.