I saw something online today that sparked a vivid memory: an elementary balloon release. These days such an attack on the environment is frowned upon, but apparently it still occurs. And I’m secretly glad.
First, a disclaimer: I go green whenever possible. I recycle and I conserve. I encourage my students to recycle and conserve.
But I have just a few cherished elementary school memories, and this annual event is definitely one of them. Along with Field Day, Balloon Day was an opportunity to break out of the classroom and feel free, even for a short while.
We would attach a tag with each of our names and the school’s address. If the balloon was found by someone, the instructions were to mail the tag back to our school with a note stating where the balloon traveled. I once had my tag returned, and I was thrilled to learn that my balloon had traveled ACROSS THE STATE LINE. Just imagine.
In retrospect, my geography wasn’t exceptional, so I missed the fact that the distance was just tens of miles. I think what really impressed me, though, was that a person – someone I would never meet – received my balloon and returned my tag. When you’re eight years old living in a less-than global world, it doesn’t take much to be amazed, and it was a connection that was before its time. For better or worse, today’s “digital natives” grow up knowing nothing but worldwide social networks, and so are not as easily enthused by such a link.
For the betterment of our environment, there shouldn’t be any more balloon releases, but I am grateful to have had the experience.