There’s something special about a public school. If you grew up attending a neighborhood school here in the Great Lakes State, you likely have at least a few vivid memories of your early education. Whether you loved school, couldn’t stand it, or simply can’t remember, here are some classic Michigan public school experiences that might help jog your memory.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Learning about HOMES
If you ask a Michigander to list off the Great Lakes, chances are good that they’ll list them in this order: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. This is no coincidence: the HOMES acronym has always been taught widely throughout the Great Lakes State, and it’s certainly effective!
2. Taking the MEAP test
Ah, standardized testing: there’s nothing quite so nerve-wracking! Here in Michigan, many of us experienced the MEAP test during our formative years. While the test itself certainly wasn’t fun, it DID usually mean receiving free juice and snacks to keep us "alert" during the exam — so we suppose it could have been worse!
3. Random medical checks
We aren’t sure if this primarily happened in Michigan or took place throughout the country, but many public school kiddos remember lining up for all sorts of school-sponsored medical exams. From scoliosis screenings to eyesight testing to lice examinations, there was always something odd about getting out of class to partake in a mass medical exam.
4. Being really cold during Friday night football games
Can you imagine living in a state that’s warm all year long? We can’t! While many Americans likely have fond memories of enjoying high school football on crisp fall evenings, we Michiganders remember bundling up (and even battling some snowfall) when the time came to root for our alma mater. Good thing they always sold hot chocolate at the concession stand!
5. Presidential Fitness Tests
Okay, okay — we’re pretty sure this one happened throughout other states as well, but it’s a pretty vivid memory for those of us who grew up attending public school. Whether you excelled at this athletic test or dreaded the embarrassment of not being able to touch your toes, there was no escaping the Presidential Fitness Test.
6. Playing under a giant parachute in gym class
This experience certainly depends on your age, but many Michiganders have fond memories of "parachute day" in gym class. It’s just what it sounds like: the gym teacher would somehow acquire a giant rainbow-colored parachute, then students would be allowed to hold onto its edges and flap it into the air until it had expanded enough to sit under. There was nothing more magical for a nine year-old Michigander.
7. Tornado drills
Like it or not, Michigan is prone to a few tornadoes each year, and that means regular tornado drills for schoolchildren. If you went to school here in the Great Lakes State, you undoubtedly remember curling up with your friends as you practiced for a potential natural disaster. The real struggle was trying not to giggle as your teacher asked everyone to remain silent!
8. Rarely getting snow days…
When you live in a state where heavy snowfall is the norm, getting a day off work or school because of snowfall is a rare and precious commodity. Most public school graduates in Michigan have devastating memories of waking up early to listen to the radio or watch school closings scroll by on the TV… only to be disappointed after realizing that the day would proceed as usual.
9. … but feeling like you’d won the lottery when it finally happened.
Of course, that’s not to say that snow days NEVER occur for Michigan kiddos. While the disappointment of not having a snow day was tough to swallow growing up, the elation of FINALLY getting one was just as intense. Don’t mind me, I’m just gonna sleep in until 10 and watch "The Price Is Right" in my pajamas before embarking on a busy day of snowman-building!
10. Field trips to Lansing, Mackinac Island, and other classic Michigan destinations.
If you went to school here in Michigan, we’re almost certain that you took a field trip Lansing at some point during your childhood. Other popular destinations for field trips included Mackinac Island, the Henry Ford, Michigan’s Adventure, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Fun fact: that little girl smack dab in the middle of the photo above is the author of this article!
11. Feeling really proud to be a "public school kid."
No education system is perfect, and Michigan’s public schools have had their highs and lows. But most of us who grew up attending public school here in the Great Lakes State have fond memories of our experiences. Public schools introduced us to diversity, friendship, and lifelong learning. We were proud of our schools as kiddos, and we’re proud to be products of them today.
Tell us, Michiganders: what are your most vivid memories of attending public school here in Michigan? We’d love to hear about your experiences and nostalgic recollections in the comment section below.