Back to school: Tips and topics

Back to school: Tips and topics

August 5th, 2012 in Life Entertainment

The full first day of school in Hamilton County is Monday Aug. 13. With that in mind, the Times Free Press Life staff has assembled this page of advice for parents and kids about to embark on a new school year.


1. Start now getting children into a bedtime routine -- both going to bed on time, as well as getting up at the same hour they will during the school year.

2. Parents should remain positive and excited when speaking about the start of school, even if they are sad about children leaving them on the first day.

3. Help children get organized ahead of their first day. Pack backpacks the night before, decide where backpacks will be kept at home. Practice opening lunchbox containers, so children feel comfortable when they go it alone at school.

4. If the child doesn't have an older sibling and is not familiar with the school building, visit the school in advance. Drive through the car route and show your child where drop-off/pickup is. Walk through the building to find bathrooms, classrooms and cafeteria.

5. Make sure your child can handle bathroom skills alone, including buttoning, zipping and refastening clothing.

Sources: Zee Espy, Rebecca Lusardo, Jessica Trogdon, Leah McCrea, kindergarten teachers of Silverdale Baptist Academy

-- Compiled by Susan Pierce


1. "I don't know," "Nothing" and "I'm just tired" will become common and normal answers to most of your questions.

2. Your perception of your child is probably not how he or she is perceived at school. When you suggest your child should run for class president, try out for quarterback or the debate team and he looks at you like you've grown sweet potatoes out of your nose, let it go.

3. Do encourage your child to try every club, sport or group the school will allow and that he has any interest in. He or she might find something fun, and it looks good on a resume.

4. Kids today really are exposed to more than we were, and they face a good deal more pressure. It is important that you know this and do not assume that having pimples is the biggest drama they face every day.

5. Talking with your child works better if you do more listening than talking, and don't try to make every conversation a teaching moment or a fact-finding mission. (I failed at this one a lot.)

-- Compiled by Barry Courter, father of an 18- and 23-year-old


1. Booker T. Washington (closed 1968): Students recall the mother-figure teachers, chapel talks and Field Day.

2. Riverside (closed 1983): Students remember the hand-me-down building (previous City High and now Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences), dedicated teachers and strong basketball teams.

3. Kirkman (closed 1991): Students recall the broad cosmetology program, participation in Vocational Industrial Clubs of America national competitions and the long-awaited building of the football field (where AT&T Field now stands).

4. Chattanooga Valley (closed 1989): Students remember the small classes, the school being the heart of the community and battles of the bands.

5. Rossville (closed 1989): Students recall fall football season bonfires, a mid-1960s Georgia high school football championship and hanging out at Shoney's restaurant or the Rebel Drive-in.

Sources: Students from the various schools

-- Compiled by Clint Cooper


"To this day I eat my burgers with cheese, mayo, pickle and lettuce. For the three years I attended Tyner Jr. High School, burgers were available every day and these were the condiments available."

-- M. Jason Bowling

"I loved the square pizzas. Favorite memory -- putting all kinds of sauces on the pizzas to see which tasted better ... ketchup, Thousand Island, ranch, salsa, etc."

-- Tia Seitz

"As an Englishman who came to Chattanooga in my sophomore year of high school, my eyes were opened up to a world of fried okra, biscuits and gravy, grits and best of all: pizza rolls. So good."

-- Simon Topps

"I do remember that batter-dipped fish was a regular Friday lunch fare. To this day, even though I'm a Methodist, I still expect to eat fish on Fridays."

-- Dwight Hunter

"I gave a boy that I liked my orange in the third grade. Then we 'went together' for a solid week. There's some newsworthy lunchroom talk."

-- Kelly Chambley

Compiled by Holly Leber


The start of a new school year can seem daunting -- the next 10 months of your life planned before that final semester's report card is signed, sealed and delivered. If that stretch of days seems unending, students, remember that you still get every weekend free, plus a fall break, a winter break and a spring break, in addition to random holidays and several days when only the teachers have to show up. Here are a few key dates to pencil on your calendar.

Aug. 7: Registration day

Aug. 13: First full day of school

Sept. 3: Labor Day

Oct. 5: No school

Oct. 8-12: Fall break

Oct. 26: Half day of school

Nov. 21-23: Thanksgiving break

Dec. 21-Jan. 8: Winter break

Jan. 21: M.L. King Day

Feb. 15: Half day of school

Feb. 18: Presidents Day

March 19: No school

March 25-29: Spring break

May 23: No school

May 24: Last day of school

Source: Hamilton County Department of Education website

Compiled by Lisa Denton


1. STM Bags Revolution Small Laptop Backpack (from $59 online). In addition to room for textbooks and note paper, this hi-tech rucksack offers a concealed pocket to accommodate laptops with up to 13-inch screens, a dedicated iPad pocket lined with fingerprint-removing material, a tuck-away rain cover and strap-mounted phone pocket.

2. Google Nexus 7 ($200-250, depending on storage, exclusively on Google's entry into the 7-inch tablet market weighs just 12 ounces but packs a lot of power. Beneath the Corning scratch-resistant glass, it has a quad-core processor for a buttery smooth browsing experience for research (or Facebook), a 9-10 hour battery life and easy access to Android reader apps for schools that are shifting to digital texbooks.

3. Ecoverse by ShedRain (from $17 online). Environmentally minded parents should consider tossing this compact umbrella made from eco-friendly, recycled materials in their kid's backpack. At 0.7 pounds and 11 inches folded, it doesn't take up much space but expands to 42-inches, more than enough coverage for rainy mornings at the bus stop.

4. Philips Fidelio AS1100/DS1100 Dock for Android/iPod/iPhone (Apple and Android versions from $39-$59 online, respectively). In addition to serving as a charging station and speaker for your smart phone (via Bluetooth connection for Android sets), these docks double as stylish clocks with an adjustable backlight and that sync to the device's alarm schedule.

5. Sony SmartWatch (from $103 online). With a phone in every pocket, watches may seem outdated, but this watch does a lot more. Via Bluetooth connection, the SmartWatch synchs to Android-based smart phones, providing a wrist-mounted second touch screen with access to Twitter, Facebook, music, calendar, Gmail, call handling, weather and other apps.

-- Compiled by Casey Phillips