Those school days are fast approaching

It is almost the end of July, which means we are only a few more weeks from the beginning of the school year.

I’m sure the rare youth reading this column has probably groaned upon seeing those words, and I can understand your pain, but it is a fact of life that summer vacations will be coming to an end shortly.

Parents are going to be back-to-school shopping, if they haven’t already, looking for some new clothes, school supplies and other necessities.

In my youth, the big goal for us kids was trying to find the coolest-looking Trapper Keeper. I doubt any of today’s youth have any idea what that is, but for those who grew up in the 1980s and 90s, one of the first things we did upon arriving to school on the first day of the year was to show each other our brand-new binders. Today’s status symbols are more along the lines of smartphones and video game systems. Back then, it was the kind of folders you used to keep your school work together, especially if they had large velcro flaps, multiple pockets and really cool designs on the cover.

Simpler times, I guess.

We’ll be seeing those deals in the stores for packs of paper, pens and pencils, folders and other items, all to help the kids (really, the parents) stock up before that first bell rings.

This also means football season is fast approaching.

Saturday night saw the annual OVAC game between West Virginia and Ohio. Obviously, since I am writing this before the game kicks off, I have no idea who won, but I do hope it was a good game and that everyone enjoyed themselves.

These players are among the best of the Ohio Valley, and, for many, it will be the last time they get to play before a hometown crowd as they head off to college.

Now that the game is over, regular practice will begin for our local high school teams.

Our sports department has been busy putting together our annual season preview, “The Gridiron,” which will take a look at the 11 teams we cover. That is scheduled to come out near the end of August, so be on the lookout.

The next few weeks will probably move fast, so there will be a flurry of activities as people try to squeeze in that last bit of summer fun, maybe take a couple of weekend getaways or spend time enjoying the outdoors and warm weather while they can.

Maybe head out on a picnic today at one of our local parks, or go for a bicycle ride one evening this week. Don’t just stay cooped up inside playing video games. Go out and get the stink blown off you, as I was told growing up.

In the meantime, the school year will begin soon enough, and there are always a few bits of advice to hand out as that time approaches.

Find time to enjoy your school days, because, as strange as it seems, 18 years go by more quickly than you will ever realize. Make good friendships, those that will stay with you. Take part in extracurricular activities, whether it’s a sport or some type of school-sponsored club. Learn to play a musical instrument or maybe even try out for a school theatrical production.

Mostly, though, I encourage you to study as hard as you can and to keep on learning. Education is important, no matter where you might be heading in life. It’s also important to continue learning, even after the traditional years of school have come to an end.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)