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My Unforgettable Third Grade Memories
In the Philippines, the month of June culminates the dry summer months of April and May, and heralds the onset of the rainy season. This month also marks the opening of regular classes in the country.
This year, President Arroyo declared an earlier than usual school opening – June 1st for the public schools and either June 8th or 15th for the private schools.
My eight-year-old daughter Zara, who’s turning nine come December, is going to be in third grade this school year. And she is very excited to be going back to school after summer vacation. She has been in the same private school since Nursery – all in all, this is her 6th year in school since she entered Nursery when she was only 3.
In a few days’ time, Zara would be going to school as a third grader. Last weekend, we went to the bookstore to buy her school materials. And when we got home, I couldn’t help watching her arranging her things in her old school bag as I told her we would be buying a new bag before the end of June yet. Her excitement was so contagious that as I was watching her, my mind took off to the days when I was in the same grade.
Although I was then a year younger than she is now as I entered Grade I at 5, most of my third grade memories have remained till now. I guess, third graders have the capacity to absorb a lot of things happening around them. They possess a photographic memory that captures everything from TV commercials to conversation tidbits.
However, my third grade experience during the mid-70’s was very far from that of my daughter. I grew up in a small city located in the southern part of the country, while she was born and raised in Manila. We had no television then, and the only forms of entertainment we had were music played on a turntable or a transistor radio. But my third grade memories were filled with the joys of childhood and dotted with friends.
My Third Grade Memories
Among my memories of third grade that have made a significant impact on my present life include:
1) The awakening of my love for reading
Unlike my daughter who learned to read during kindergarten, I learned to read basic syllables during first grade as I did not attend pre-school. And it was during third grade, when I could read well, that I developed a passion for reading. I could still remember reading my favorite storybook – Stories on Parade – unmindful of its torn cover and tattered pages.
2) Self- discovery of my flair for writing
Although I did not think of becoming a writer then, I started to enjoy studying English very much that I would always look forward to our Communication Arts in English subject to grasp whatever our teacher taught us. I particularly loved writing exercises such as composition writing and sentence construction, when most of my classmates would cower at such activities.
3) Learning the value of a healthy competition
It was during third grade that my sense of competitiveness was first stimulated. I was among the honors of the class and my childhood friend and neighbor was my strongest rival. Although I can’t remember now our final rankings at the end of the school year, we grew up as very good friends and playmates even if we were not in the same class from 4th grade to 6th grade. And when we graduated, she ended up to be our school’s Valedictorian while I emerged as the Salutatorian.
4) Realizing the value of life and friendship
When I was in Grade III, a horrible disaster devastated our city and nearby provinces, claiming thousands of lives. This catastrophe was easily the most unforgettable experience I had of third grade; and is among the most memorable experiences of my entire life. It has paved a way for me to value life now more than ever, knowing that in one instant, you could lose someone dear to you. My older sister lost a classmate who was also her best friend during this tragic event in 1976 that put our city in the world map .
Do you have unforgettable memories when you were in third grade?
The Earthquake and Tsunami of 1976
At a little past 12 midnight of August 17, 1976, a tremendous earthquake shook the Moro Gulf, sweeping through the various provinces in Mindanao, including our city, Pagadian. The quake was then followed by a series of tsunamis that killed many people and left thousands of families homeless.
Our city sustained the worst effects with our very own district – the largest and the most populous among the city’s 11 coastal districts – posting the most number of fatalities. And, had it happened during the day when kids were in school, the casualties would have been greater; and would have even included my siblings and me.
As I mentioned earlier, our district lies in the lowest section of our hilly city. I and my two older siblings went to a public elementary school near the sea. Our school was greatly devastated by the tsunamis. Its buildings were uprooted and displaced by the tragic event leaving us without classrooms for several weeks. I could still remember having classes at the front yard of our class adviser’s residence weeks after the tragedy.
For a more detailed account of my family’s experiences during this disaster, you may read, Remembering the 1976 and Earthquake and Tsunami that Devastated My City.
Looking back to that terrible event that occurred when I was in third grade, I am so thankful to God for saving me and my family. And every time I think about it, I really feel for those who suffered and lost their loved ones in that disaster.
Now that Zara is about to enter third grade, I couldn’t help remembering that terrible tragedy I had gone through when I was her age. Although the terror of it all did not quite sink in to me then as none of my family was hurt, I could still remember the aftermath of the event, and how it affected our lives for the next few months. The 1976 earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc in my hometown will definitely hold the most unforgettable part of my third grade memories.
Have you ever experienced a great tragedy like a tsunami?
More Info on the 1976 Tsunami and Other Tsunamis
- Tsunamis in History | LiveScience
A sampling of the biggest, most destructive and deadliest tsunamis on record.
- PHILIPPINES - THE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI OF AUGUST 16,1976 IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS - The Moro Gulf
- 1976 Moro Gulf Earthquake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia