By Connie Pillsbury, Opinion Columnist
Fall brings a sense of calm, of cooler, shorter, days and locally, events centered on our history—Colony Days, Pioneer Days, and Thanksgiving. Traditionally, it’s a season of harvest, of gathering. For me, it evokes a sense of nostalgia.
Last week we found the 1922 report card for my mother-in-law, born in 1916 in Jamestown, New York. Her faded report card is one hundred years old, but the qualities and principles listed on the little printed and folded cardstock are revealing of the era and are an apt reminder of who we once were and who we are now.
The first side of the folding card lists 2nd grade ‘Class Work’ with each quarter’s grades written in black fountain ink in the appropriate box. But it’s the second side of the card, ‘Citizenship,’ that I find to be somewhat profound.
The card states Citizenship—‘Object: To develop an appreciation of what it means to be an American citizen thereby creating a desire to meet intelligently the opportunities and to discharge faithfully the duties of such Citizenship.’
Under Citizenship, there are eight categories. I find each to be poignant and applicable when viewed from the year 2021.
Manners lists ‘Courtesy to teachers, Kindness to associates, Consideration for rights of others, Cleanliness and civility of speech, Cheerfulness.’
Obedience delineates ‘Respect for law, order and authority, Willingness to respond to directions.’
The section entitled Dependableness includes ‘Truthfulness, Honesty and Self Control.’
Workmanship covers ‘Interested in work, Effort to do the best work.’ This is followed by Respect for Property, ‘Care of building, furniture and books, Consideration for property of others, Care of own property.’
Patriotism stresses ‘Interest in community welfare, Willingness to render public service.’
Reverence, ‘Attitude toward things sacred.’
Rounding off the Citizenship side of the card is Attendance, ‘Regularity, Punctuality.’
What I see in this simple Quarterly Report from Plattsburgh Public Schools is the expectation that children would be taught what is Good, Right, and True. These are the same qualities we desire today from our family, our neighbors, and our leaders, isn’t it? Don’t we all have some sort of inner understanding and sense of what is really Good, Right, and True? I believe we do.
So, let this little report card be a reminder to ‘do your best work,’ be dependable, strive ‘for cheerfulness,’ find a church where you can be reverent, take care of your family and your property, run for the school board or teach your grandkids.
And along with that, bake an apple pie. Now that’s Good, Right, and True.
Connie Pillsbury is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.