It is the time to party!

IT’S OFFICIALLY graduation party season is here and I’ve had the pleasure of attending several already.

There’s nothing better for me than seeing young people heading off to enjoy the rest of their lives!

Yet, it always saddens me when I can’t make every graduation party because it’s such a wonderful time to see the graduate, their family and friends. But time restraints and previous commitments seem to always cause me to miss one or two and I apologize for those missed opportunities to congratulate the graduate and their family!

This past weekend we had three such parties and a birthday bash and that can play havoc on a diet because the spreads at these parties are amazing! I can remember when a graduation party was nothing more than a small get-together featuring the graduate and a cake! But times have changed and I’m not complaining.

I love to eat and nothing is better than food you don’t have to make.

Yet the best part of the parties is the opportunity to visiting with old and new friends.

Such was the case this past weekend.

I was saddened, yet happy, to find that the “best kindergarten teacher ever” is now retired.

Kathy Barker, a Cadiz resident, provided the first away from home mom love to two of my sons.

Several years ago, as my youngest son prepared for school, he wasn’t too thrilled about the whole prospect of leaving home to begin his first steps into a long stretch of education.

Jacob, the older of the two of my children Mrs. Barker instructed, was the one who told his younger brother Lucas that kindergarten would be just fine because he was going to have the “best kindergarten teacher ever” and that she had taught him everything he knew! That fact impressed the younger sibling because he knew that his big brother was pretty darn smart!

Then Jacob also reminded Lucas that Mrs. Barker already knew him.

“You go to school as much as I do,” he explained.

And, that was right! Lucas and his younger sibling Elisabeth spent many a recess on the playground at the New Athens Elementary School with Jacob and their oldest brother, Will. My parents live next door to the school so it was their playground for years!

Although those days seem so long ago, Kathy and I had many fond memories that are as clear today as they were back then. We both agreed that they seem to have been made only yesterday.

We laughed about trying to create a project that required a mixture of some substance that just wouldn’t work for us.

We struggled for the longest time and finally, the best janitor in the world, the late Harry Deaton, came to our rescue like a knight in shining armor.

Kathy and I both laughed as we recalled how Harry managed to find some type of “putty-like janitor goo” that we could use to save our project and yourselves.

We also remembered the time she called me at home and said, “Kay! You’ve got to come in here!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“There’s a snake!” she exclaimed.

“A snake?” I asked again. “Get someone to get it out of the classroom. Jacob’s not afraid. He’ll do it.”

“That’s why I am calling you,” she said. “It belongs to Jacob and he said it is his pet! It’s in a can on my desk and it keeps trying to escape.”

Suddenly, I knew what was going on. Jacob loves his snakes and another teacher who instructed students at the junior high and high school level held at yearly critter-getter project. My sons and two other “country boys” seemed to be the local suppliers for the projects and Jacob had let a few of the girls from New Athens borrow his garter snake.

They had returned said snake that morning prior to the start of school and Jacob just took it to the classroom with him.

By the time I reached the school, Kathy had a pencil and was using it as her means to keep the snake in its can.

Each time the little reptile would try to escape the Maxwell House coffee can, she would hit the plastic lid with the pencil.

My guess is that Jacob would never call Mrs. Baker a snake charmer!

Seeing Kathy and another retired teacher, Lucy Norquest, at two of the graduation parties was such a treat. Seeing the “critter-getter” teacher, Kay Moore, at the birthday bash was another positive.

I sincerely hope that we don’t wait so long to visit in the future. I love to listen to their teaching and life stories.

As for the graduates of the class of 2011, I wish you all the best and hope that your future are bright and promising. I do not know who to attribute this quote to, but it is straight from the bottom of my heart to all of you: “I hope your dreams take you… to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.”

Sedgmer may be reached at