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2017-06-01 / Family Matters

A Class of Their Own

David Rockower’s students take a shot at being a columnist
Rebecca Hile

One of the many things I love about Delta Middle School is the freedom to design classes based on student interest. By popular request, I’m currently teaching a course called “20,000 Words/Writing for Publication.” Students find contests and publications of interest, and then write, edit, revise and submit. I conference with them, offering feedback throughout the process. I decided to offer up my column for one month — students would submit their essays to SCM, and the editor would choose a winner. Rebecca Hile’s essay about her sister leaving for college was selected. Enjoy!


The author (right) with her sister.The author (right) with her sister.

She’s going to forget about me, I thought. My sister was going away for college in one day. Most of her bags were packed, and a box of dorm supplies was sitting proudly on display in the hallway. My sister is five years older than me. She’s been there every day of my life. I didn’t want her to go. I knew college was only the beginning. She was going to Penn State, which is only 20 minutes away, but it felt like she would be gone forever. She’d be 20 minutes away for the next four years, but then after that? She could be all the way across the country, or even the world.

This was of course the reason for my state of panic. Exactly halfway across the world from the JFK airport is the Indian Ocean. I don’t know what my sister would be doing in the Indian Ocean, but I know it would take me 12 hours to fly there. Instead of 20 minutes away, she could end up half a day away.
When my sister was on exchange in France, which was the longest we had been apart, she had brought back two rings for me. An idea entered my mind; I grabbed one of my jewelry boxes, and carefully put one of the two rings inside.

I headed downstairs to help load the car with my sister’s things. Even though I felt like crying, I dutifully helped place box after box into the car. Then we were done. This all had felt like a faraway dream before, but now it was so real. It seemed as if I reached to touch my sister, she could just turn to smoke under my fingers. The house would no longer be filled with the smell of her fresh baked cookies, or pine after she comes home from a hike. She wouldn’t be there after school to ask me how my day went. I went inside, and found my mom sitting on the stairs. She reached to give me a hug, and I started crying. This house would never be the same. My family would never be the same.     

The next morning was move-in day. To me, it was move-out day. I grabbed the tiny box and placed it in my pocket. Outside her dorm hundreds of families were saying goodbye to their children. I realized how lucky I was. Some children were hours away from their siblings. Twenty minutes didn’t seem quite as far now. I followed my family up the stairs. I opened the door that already had her name on it.

My sister was sitting on her new bed. She looked so much older now. She already had a Penn State T-shirt on. I fished the tiny box out of my pocket and handed it to her. She opened it, and I proudly showed her the matching ring on my finger. She strung hers on a necklace that hung around her neck.

“I’m only a phone call away,” I promised. After she was settled in, I took one last look at her as I walked out of the room.  

The first week was hard, but slowly everything didn’t seem as bad. We went out for her birthday, and I caught her up on the events of my day-to-day life. Now, when my other sister goes off to college it won’t be as hard. Family is forever. Family means that we’ll never forget each other. No matter how far away we are, we’ll always be in each other’s hearts.


With a sports-obsessed 12-year-old son, a spirited 10-year-old daughter and a goldendoodle who looks like a muppet, teacher David Rockower has a lot to write about.

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