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Starting school in a dangerous world | News, Sports, Jobs

It’s that time of year again, when the school bells start ringing in northeast Michigan.

Yellow school buses will soon stop at street corners. Young students with backpacks that look a bit like turtles will go home every day after the last bell. Anxious parents will line up outside the school waiting for their child to come out.

It’s that time of year again.

As parents, a new school year allows us to see our children make new friends, develop new social skills and expand their educational knowledge. Parents play a central role at this time of year in “setting the tone” for the school year ahead.

The same is true for grandparents.

As grandparents, most of us also learn that the parenting techniques we’ve used with our children – while still helpful – take on a new perspective and, perhaps, even greater importance at this point. of the lives of our grandchildren.

For me, as a grandfather of four granddaughters, that means always having a keen ear to listen, a wise mind to know when to give advice and when not to, a supportive attitude towards all their activities and many prayers to surround each of them every day at school.

Two of my granddaughters from Ohio have already been in school for almost two weeks. One Michigan granddaughter is not yet old enough to go to school, while the other will start classes just after Labor Day.

They’re all young, active girls, and my activity calendar, which is color-coded for each child, looks like a colorful, patchwork quilt for each month’s activities through October.

I have learned, however, that while it is important to be there for each of them and their activities, the most important thing I can do for my granddaughters every day is to surround them with prayer.

We all know that the world around us can sometimes be cruel and dark, so I want to equip them as best I can with the knowledge of right and wrong when faced with difficult decisions in their lives.

I was reading the newspaper the other day when I came across an article about a new threat on the streets of the United States – multicolored fentanyl pills that look a lot like candy. Border Patrol agents seized more than 265,000 of these fentanyl pills in two separate incidents last week.

As a grandfather, this upsets me. Why would a manufacturer of these pills bother to color them if they were only for adults? Obviously, these pills were colored this way to make them more appealing to a younger and probably more naive audience.

All this makes my blood boil. You see, for me, the problem is personal.

This summer, a nephew died of a fentanyl overdose. I know the heartbreak it caused, the questions that will forever remain unanswered.

That is why I am upset to learn of another potential danger on the streets that our children and grandchildren may face.

The last thing I want to do is wrap my granddaughters in bubble wrap. I want them to get the most out of life by making smart decisions and choosing good friends.

But I also want them to understand that when faced with choices, there’s always a right answer and a wrong answer — and I want them to be able to tell the difference between the two.

I believe children face much more today than past generations faced.

This school year, take part in your child’s education. Attend their school activities. Sit down with them over dinner and talk about their day at school.

If you do, I guarantee it will be a great school year for both of you.

Bill Speer recently retired as publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at

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