MARILYN HAGERTY: Empty nest syndrome strikes as students troop off to school

Dear Shirley, This is the most exciting time of year in Grand Forks. UND students are back. The city schools are opening this week. Tomatoes are ripening on the vine. The harvest is on. There are new backpacks, new shoes, new haircuts. Everything...

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Dear Shirley,

This is the most exciting time of year in Grand Forks. UND students are back. The city schools are opening this week. Tomatoes are ripening on the vine. The harvest is on.

There are new backpacks, new shoes, new haircuts. Everything seems new.

We look ahead to the first UND football game next Thursday in the Alerus with the Drake Bulldogs, who will be coming up from Des Moines, Iowa. Central and Red River high school football teams will meet up Sept. 9 for the annual Cushman Classic. They should be on a newly revamped playing field.

The whole world seems fresh and new on the first day of school. This week one of my favorite children -- John Bjerke -- started kindergarten at Kelly School. He declined to answer any serious questions.


He's one of about 7,200 students who will attend public schools in Grand Forks this year. There are 700 teachers on the roster, Shirley, and 65 percent of them have master's degrees. When you realize there are 400 support and administrative people working for the city schools, you know how big it is.

The grade schools started Wednesday. The high schools are in session today. Out at UND, the classes were under way earlier in the week.

It all makes me wish, in a way, that I could have a pleated skirt, a cardigan sweater and some saddle shoes and march off to classes. But those days are long gone, Shirley, and they probably weren't as great as I like to remember them.

This is the season when the "empty nest syndrome" strikes many a home. Parents watch their youngest leave the nest to start their years of college. They wipe aside tears and swallow lumps in their throats. On the other hand, there are some parents who give a whoop of joy!

I am sure all of this is happening in Tucson, too, Shirley. I see the University of Arizona has been holding its annual Wildcat Welcome for more than a week now. What is the enrollment down there?

The magic of school openings soon will fade away. This time is extra special. Here in Grand Forks, classes will be suspended for Labor Day on Sept. 5. And the students here will have two days off on Sept. 26 and 27 while the schools hold professional development.

On the east side of the Red River, the schools are more logical. They open in East Grand Forks after Labor Day.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of summer sun left, Shirley. We have to get the good out of each warm day. A friend of mine was talking about taking her children over to the Sky-Vu Drive In on Highway 1 near Warren, Minn.


This is one of the few drive in theatres left in the country. It brings back the good old days. I see they are featuring "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" Part 2 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Their schedule shows "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" on Labor Day weekend. They have "The Smurfs" lined up Sept. 16, 17 and 18.

Do you have any outdoor theatres in Tucson? I would think that would be a natural event for you in the cool of the evening.

Well, anyway, I hope you are keeping your cool in Arizona, and I send my love from the west bank of the Red River of the North, Marilyn.

P.S.: Remember Miranda Mozinski? She's the young woman I wrote about recently who was coming home to Grand Forks after two years in the Peace Corps. She served in Moldova, and now she is moving on to the University of Chicago. There she will be in a two-year program to earn a master's degree in clinical social work. She has her course well charted, Shirley. She said she would recommend the Peace Corps to other young people. She was able to learn about different cultures and different values.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, Shirley. Miranda was among others from places such as Hawaii and Alaska. When she went in, she said, "Send me anywhere." When she ended up in Moldova, she said it was easy to learn the language because she had to. And she taught members of her two host families how to say "mosquito" in English. She also answered their questions about the UND Sioux insignia on her sweatshirt.

Reach Hagerty at or (701) 772-1055.

Related Topics: FAMILY
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