Remembering Rituals: The First Day of School

ritual cools the head (rĭch′o͞o-əl)

a repeated act that when performed can offer solace & peace of mind. 

whether it be lighting a candle for your ancestors every sunday or a walk in the park every friday, celebrate the rituals that bring you back to you

(via TheBlackConnection on Etsy)


There are rituals that people refer to as quin·tes·sen·tial Blackness. These include but are not limited to:

- doing "way too much" at funerals

- family reunions in the summer heat

- the electric slide at wedding parties 

- prayers that are way too long at thanksgiving dinner

BUT one of my favorite rituals are about going back to school. 

My back to school rituals involved fresh pairs of K-Swiss, identifying a theme for all of my school supplies and picking  JUST THE RIGHT hair style and outfit for the first day of school. 

I could never sleep the night before the first day of school. The excitement would be too much for me. The rollers in my bangs would be wrapped just tight enough. My fresh pajamas were always a little itchy. Lastly, I probably had a new soap, deodorant or body wash to use just for the school year. 

This ritual stayed with me until I graduated from college. For some reason, the first days of graduate school remind you to sleep extra than to sleep less!

Monique - First Day of School, 1992

Monique - First Day of School, 1992


Entering my tenth year as a professional in the field of education, I still get excited about the first day of school. Some of the rituals remain, others are long gone. I still think about back to school hair styles, update my wardrobe, and unlike the backpack fashion of my childhood I try to figure out which bag makes me look most like an adult. 

It's always exciting to see the what's *new* for young people on the first day of school. Today I saw blue hair, lots of skinny jeans, and neon sneaker after neon sneaker. 

As a professor, I got excited when one of my students came up to me and asked: "What kind of binder do I need for your class?"

The newness of the school year will always be a time of rebirth, reconfiguration, and renewal for young folks. As adults in their lives, its an opportunity to support and nurture them with honoring their rituals. Rituals, do indeed, cool the head. They remind of us of what's important in our lives, allow us to check in on what makes us joyful, happy, and flourishing, and promote a sense of timeless community that is unbroken regardless of technology or relocation. Rituals. Cool. The. Head. Happy New School Year to everyone! Your rituals  are more than habits they are honored traditions!

What back to school rituals do you have in your family?