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Back-To-School, The American Ritual

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Going back to school in America is quite a ritual. Actually mostly a shopping ritual. The shopping expedition for "back-to-school" is huge in America. First, new clothes must be purchase for the fall and winter season. Also, parents buy new sneakers and shoes for the coming school year. Children must all buy new school supplies: pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, binders, and folders. One thing that is different between American and Czech schools is that at public schools, students do not have to buy their own textbooks. They only borrow them for that school year. They must pay for the book only if they lose it or damage it. It is very important for younger children to get a new lunchbox. A lunchbox is a plastic container chapped like a box with a handle and most children carry their lunches to school in them until they are about 10 years old. The lunchboxes come with a thermos for drinks. On the lunchboxes there will often be a character or scene from a popular children's movie or television show. Older students carry their lunches in small brown paper bags especially made to be the right size for lunches; they are called "lunch bags". A typical lunch from home would be: a sandwich (peanut butter and jelly is a favorite), potato chips, a small cake for dessert, and a piece of fruit or carrot sticks. Students can also buy hot lunches at school. A typical school hot lunch might be: spaghetti with meat sauce, a small salad, fruit, and a dessert. Most students drink milk or juice with lunch. If students are going to a new school that year, they usually go to see where all their classes are, and to look at the general layout of the school. Students who have finished primary school and are going to secondary school for the first time are usually a bit nervous. Until then, they stayed in one room, with one teacher all day. In secondary school, they must change classrooms for every class, and go to a different teacher's classroom. Before school starts, often these young new students will walk through their schedules, and try to open their lockers. A locker is a personal cupboard where students store their personal belongings while they're at school, such as their coats, school bags, and books. Students in America do not change their shoes when they arrive and depart school. They wear their shoes all day. Lockers are locked with combination locks. When student walk through their new schedules at the new school, they also try their luck with opening the combination lock. Because you only have about four minutes in between classes to return to your locker open it, get the books for the next class, and go there, you must be fast opening the combination lock. School starts at 8:15 am and finishes at 2:45 pm. Everyone must attend all day; most schools do not usually allow students to leave the school grounds. On the first day of school, not much happens. Everyone comes to school looking good in new school clothes. In the classes, the teachers distribute the textbooks and tell the students what will be required of them that year. Th en the students are called to the school auditorium where the principal makes a welcoming speech, wishing every one good luck for the school year. American school days are usually divided into eight 45-minute "periods" or classes. Students have the same classes and the same schedules every day, though some classes they might have only every-other-day, such as orchestra class (usually each school has an orchestra or a band, in which students play) or physical education.
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