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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to school with blessings*

Welcome back to school, students and teachers! It's a new school year; a new opportunity to do better and excel in life.

For students, you want to know more, increase you knowledge and skills and pass your exams so you can advance to the next grade level or graduate.

For teachers, you exhibit professionalism, make sure to follow school curriculum, make your lessons interesting and lively, help your students pass their tests and your class, teach effectively and creatively, and challenge your students to be the best they can be.

Some of you probably wish your summer vacation had been extended. Or maybe you just wanted to stay home. Or be somewhere else, anywhere but school.

Well, you have to go back. Learning and teaching, exploring, researching and discovering new things, thinking, brainstorming and finding solutions to society's problems, making friends and building bridges---that's what you're expected to do.

It's time to go back to the business of education and training---lifelong activities that help us realized our dreams for the future.

For students who took advantage of summer school programs, i'm sure you're ready to tackle what's up this new school year. The same is true, I believe, for dedicated teachers and educators who availed themselves of professional development opportunities this summer.

Teachers already have been back to work weeks ahead of their students, so they could attend meetings, get training, learn new policies, meet old and new friends and colleagues, get to know staff and faculty members, and take care of their classrooms, making sure they're welcoming, inspiring and conducive to learning.

My wife Freny and her co-teachers had their first day back at work Aug. 26. Students won't report to school until Sept. 8.

Back to school for parents will bring mixed feelings. They struggle with the reality of letting go of their children, with hope they'll learn to be well-informed and responsible citizens.

Freny and I used to accompany our two college-bound children for their respective move-in days. Freny wouldn't come up to sleep at night until she had called them and talked to them, making sure they're doing well, while I was already in bed, snoring! You know how mothers are. That's their nature.

Back to school is fun, challenging, rewarding and inspiring. As a former communication arts English instructor, back in the Philippines, I know full well what a challenge the time can be for teachers.

For students and teachers, alike, a bit of advice and a prayer: Stay alert and active. And may God bless you and your family always.

-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at

*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Wednesday, September 2, 2015. For more information, visit

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