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Nathan Hansen column: New school days and school days long past

School starts next week in Farmington and Rosemount. You probably knew that.

On Tuesday morning, kids in new-for-school outfits will file back through classroom doors. They will push backpacks into lockers and squeeze themselves into desks.

Then, presumably, they will immediately start counting down the days until summer break.

Once they get past the disappointment of their vanished freedom, there are plenty of reasons students can get excited about the start of a new school year. It means new teachers and new lessons to learn. For many, it means moving to a new, bigger school. A move that will bring with it many new responsibilities, opportunities to make new friends and new places to get lost.

In Farmington, at least, it means the return of iPads to many students' lives. I worry that means my Plants Vs. Zombies high score might not be safe for much longer.

It's been a long time since I've had that first-day-of school experience. I graduated from Stillwater High School in 1993, which means I'm more than two decades past the last day of my pre-college education. It's makes sense, then, that my class held its 20-year reunion on Saturday.

That fact surprised me a bit. Not that it had been 20 years since I last wore a red-and-white letter jacket. I've known that occasion was coming for a couple of years now. It really hit home on the day I realized the cross country skis I was using — the ones I'd raced on in high school, paired with ski boots in gray, turquoise and yellow that I can't imagine were stylish even in the early 90s — were now older than any high school senior.

My skis were old enough to drive. Old enough to vote. Old enough to do a vaguely obscene dance with that Growing Pains guy's son on national television.

I knew the reunion would happen at some point. I just didn't know exactly when until a Twitter message from the Stillwater School District's account notified alumni of several classes that their milestone gatherings were approaching. It was the first I'd heard about the reunion. It was the first I'd heard about any reunion of my classmates, for that matter. For all I know, they've been celebrating every year since we accepted our diplomas.

It turns out, there's even a Facebook page dedicated to my graduating class. It's a closed group. You have to ask for admission, then be let in by whoever runs the site. I'm pretty sure I've requested membership twice. I have yet to hear anything in reply.

I'm doing my best not to take it personally.

It's possible I would have gone to the reunion if I'd known about it earlier. Possible, but not probable. I didn't have a bad experience in high school. I had friends. I had a good time. I just haven't kept in touch with most of them. I'm connected on Facebook to, I think, two other members of my graduating class. That's been about it for keeping the ties alive.

I never claimed to be a social person.

Who knows, maybe I'll feel differently in 2043. It will be like the first day of school all over again.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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