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Nest empties as school starts

Posted: July 25, 2012 - 12:03am  |  Updated: July 25, 2012 - 9:51am

Today is the publication date for The News-Times’ annual Back to School edition, and that also means principals report back to Columbia County schools today.

I’d ask where the summer went, except that those of us with year-round work schedules don’t get the same summer break as school children and staffers. For them, however, that vacation quickly is drawing to a close.

Teachers start back in one week; students, a week after that.

For the first time in two decades, one of my children won’t be among them. Instead, about a week later I’ll be sending off my youngest to college.

Yep. Our nest will be empty.

Of course, “empty” is relative when three dogs and a cat have the run of the place. And besides: Though the oldest now has a home of her own, with her former room converted to a warehouse for sewing materials, the two younger girls still officially are residents under our roof. They just aren’t under that roof very often.

And while my youngest makes the transition from full-time joint-enrolled college student as a high school senior, to full-time college student away from home, my middle daughter will be following in her mom’s footsteps in August when she starts student teaching at a south Georgia high school.

There’s probably a support group for parents wondering how to cope with the departure of their children. I’m guessing it meets on a cruise ship.

For everyone else getting ready to send off their younger ones to elementary, middle or high school, or also sending theirs off to college, best of luck to you. And them.

Meanwhile, for parents like me who’ve been through the recent whirlwind of a child’s college orientation, where was all that when we were in school?

It makes me want to go back just for the gym privileges and the meal plans.

Then again, I also remember “college student” isn’t exactly a high-paying job – though it does have summers off.

 

John Graham

Dr. John Graham was one of those people we both love and dread to see walk in the newsroom.

We love it, because it’s hard to find people so willing to give of themselves, with so much expertise. Yet we dread it, because it’s hard to explain to such people in a news context that the rest of the world just isn’t as passionate about the same things.

In any event, we’re sure that Columbia County residents owe more of a debt of gratitude to Graham than they’ll ever know.

When Graham moved here in 1990, after a long professional life, he taught biology to home-schoolers, high-schoolers and college students. We got to know him when he began working with the Adopt-a-Stream program, winning a state award for his efforts in 2007.

He was committed to protecting the county’s waterways, and worked hard to develop other volunteers to monitor the health of streams. Before he moved away a couple of years ago, he confided that he was worried no one else would be as committed to carrying on his efforts.

While other volunteers continue the work, it would be impossible for them to be as passionate.

Sadly, we got word this past week that Dr. Graham had passed away in June while in hospice care in Charlottesville, Va., at age 81.

Our county’s waterways are cleaner because John Graham was here. Keeping them that way is up to us.

May he rest in peace.

 

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/
barrypaschal.)

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