Story last updated at 8/26/2009 - 2:10 pm
It can be easy to start to feel a little depressed this time of year, as signs of fall appear in Southeast Alaska. Our days are getting shorter. When it rains, it often rains hard. We've already begun to describe cool, overcast days as "nice." How quickly we've forgotten the blaring sun of just a few weeks ago.
There's a lot to be said for making the most of the remaining days of summer, especially opportunities to fish and gather berries. But in the midst of this, whether we're ready or not, it's also time to go back to school.
At other latitudes, the start of the school year doesn't always line up so nicely with the onset of cooler weather. I remember sweating through quite a few September days in my Chicago school when I was young. But in Southeast, there's often a change in weather around this time of year that makes being inside quite a bit more appealing.
I've been getting a bit nostalgic for my school days recently, and it's been comforting to realize that going back to school is hardly just for the young.
In one way or another, I see quite a few adults in Juneau heading back to school as well. Some are taking classes towards a degree at the university, others are taking university classes for personal enrichment, and quite a few others are taking advantage of numerous opportunities in town to learn something new - whether ice skating or playing hockey at the recently reopened Treadwell Arena, taking art classes at the Canvas, or putting together a book group.
And something else is going on in our town. Arts organizations, though hardly dormant over the summer, are shifting into gear. The CrossSound music festival begins this weekend. The Juneau Student Symphony is performing. Next weekend is DanceFest. Then Perseverance Theatre's season begins, and then come far more things than I can list here.
All of these events give all of us something I associate with school as well: a chance to gather and experience something together as a community.
When I graduated from high school, and then again from college, the part of each experience I missed most acutely was the community. I missed being a part of a group with lots of common things to talk about - books, plays, sports teams, music. But the schools I attended were small communities within large cities. Outside of school, it was much harder to feel like I was part of a community that shared all of these points of reference.
Not so in Southeast. When you attend a concert, a play, or a lecture, odds are you'll know quite a few people who attend as well, and have plenty of people to talk about it with afterwards.
And in a way, I think the live music, theatre, dance, lectures, and book readings in this town become a community curriculum of sorts. Maybe it's a stretch to call it "school," but when I look ahead to upcoming plays, concerts, lectures, and book readings, I feel almost like I'm looking at a syllabus.
So, let the school year begin. I look forward to seeing what we'll learn this year.
Katie Spielberger is the managing editor of the Capital City Weekly. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.