Youngsters in Okanogan and Ferry counties are joining their counterparts all over the country in returning to classes in the next few weeks.
Along with clothing and shoes that may seem confining after the carefree days of summer, each child will be armed with an office supply store’s worth of backpacks, paper, notebooks, pencil pouches, crayons and enough glue sticks to hold together the universe.
Years ago, in the dark ages of the 1960s and ‘70s, schools supplied most of the items students would need, at least at the elementary level. We toiled away with fat, perfectly round pencils that rolled off the desk and later plain yellow No. 2 pencils, and cursed the big, flat-on-one-side crayons that came in eight — and only eight — colors.
Lined newsprint paper was all we had.
But budget constraints led to longer and longer lists of school supplies.
Schools have gone beyond what used to be a junior high and high school list — bring your own paper and pencils — to a requirement at all levels that students provide paper, pencils, markers, facial tissues, three-ring binders, spiral notebooks, zippered plastic bags, scissors, rulers, composition books and boxes of crackers for snacks.
Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer appeared on the scene a few years ago.
And glue sticks. All told, hundreds and hundreds of glue sticks will be purchased this fall in Okanogan County alone.
What do kids do these days that requires all that gluing?
In classrooms of yesteryear, “art day” often meant white glue or that minty-smelling thick stuff with the spreader attached to the lid.
Both performed adequately at sticking stuff together and the white glue was good for coating your fingers, to be peeled off later when it dried. A few kids — the odd ones — ate the thick stuff.
A project that required rubber cement was special. Not only could a student complete the assigned art project, he or she could pour out a wad of rubber cement, roll it around, let it dry and end up with a ball to bounce or throw across the room.
Rubber cement probably is “outlawed” at school now, since whiffing too much of it could give you a pretty good buzz.
Now we have glue sticks.
Some schools ask each student to bring a half-dozen. Others want 15 or 20. Assuming a classroom has 15-20 children, that’s as many as 400 glue sticks.
That’s a lot of stickum.
The other perplexing thing, in our technologically advanced society, is why more than one or two sticks per kid would be needed. Ever.
I think we still have a couple of partially used glue sticks rattling around our house from our son’s elementary school days. We purchased maybe three or four the whole time he was in school.
The only thing I can figure is the schools somehow use all that glue to help lessons stick in the students’ minds.
Dee Camp is a reporter at The Chronicle. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.