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Beginning. New.

This week marked the beginning of a new semester. There is something magically alluring about two of those words. Beginning. New. How often do we get the opportunity to begin something new? A new semester happens twice in an academic year. January is the only month that brings with its arrival a new number to the year. A new president is elected every four years or perhaps eight.

No matter what grade was achieved the previous semester each student now has a fresh start. No D's carry over in the grade book, but neither do any A's. The same focused effort that was required last semester will be required this semester.

But what if it's not the grading period or the calendar that's new but us? We are different because of what we've learned, what we've experienced.The lessons we have learned and the habits we have developed make this semester a qualitatively different experience. It will be easier to apply the principles, easier to understand the teacher's methods, and easier to follow the procedures.

If the novelty lies within rather than without, then every day presents the opportunity to begin anew. We can embrace a new attitude, make a new memory, or read a new book. But admittedly, new is not always easy - not always nice. New wears a friendlier face than his companion, the unknown. The unknown causes us to retreat into the safe routine of familiarity. In this case, the new semester carries the old results, and the new year varies little from last year or the year before that. The newness is corroded by the same old self.

So, the students have been given a new semester. Each of us a new day. How would you like to begin?

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