Mixed emotions are synonymous with the first day of a new school year.
For students, the anticipation of reconnecting with friends is mixed with trepidation about impending course work and tests.
For teachers, the exhilaration of imparting knowledge is mixed with the responsibility of dispensing discipline.
For parents, the reality that their child is another year older is mixed with the joy that they are becoming more independent.
Those mixed emotions will be experienced by many people in the coming weeks.
Helias Catholic High School begins classes Monday; other parochial schools will follow throughout the week. Thursday marks the first day of classes for all Jefferson City Public Schools, and Lincoln University resumes classes Aug. 22.
Education comes in a variety of forms. It can be public, parochial or charter - to name a few - at levels elementary, secondary and higher taught at schools, institutes, academies and homes by educators who are teachers, professors and parents.
No single educational model excels beyond all others or it would be embraced and extolled exclusively by now.
No matter the model, education occurs when a spark triggers a synapse in the brain and something - a fact, theory or belief - is retained.
The trigger may come from anyone - a teacher, a parent, a friend - or anything - a book, a conversation, an experience.
What is necessary as a catalyst for the spark is an open mind.
As a new school year begins, we encourage students to keep an open mind.
An older sibling may criticize a specific teacher as ineffective, a friend may claim a specific subject is boring, but those are simply their opinions based on their attitudes and experiences.
What you learn - and the opinion you will form - may be vastly different, if you keep an open mind.
A new school year is an exciting time. It is a time to reconnect, to explore and to open the intellect to the abundance of knowledge that awaits.