BURKE, Virginia, U.S.A. — So, it’s a week before school starts and you know what’s coming. Yes, your mom comes into the room and tells you that it’s time to go and buy school supplies. Most of the stuff is common sense, but somehow there are always those people who never quite remember what they need for their classes.
First off, you will probably need a binder and a spiral notebook for each class, or if you’re more of a loose-leaf type person, get one of those 250 page packs of paper. Most teachers will also ask for you to have dividers in your binders, so be sure to pick up a few packs of sturdy ones.
Next up, pens and pencils. Some teachers will only let you use blue ink, some only black. So the best idea is to get one pack of each.
Don’t splurge and get that wicked cool red/black/green/stylus pen that costs $25 – you’ll lose it within the first week. There are always people who won’t have a pen, and they’ll always come to whomever they see with a working one and ask for one. For this reason, always have several extras on hand.
Your math teacher will probably only let you use pencils in class, so get a dozen or so pencils. If you go for mechanical ones, get some extra lead. If not, then you might want go get a mini pencil sharpener, because you don’t want your teacher yelling at you for needing to get up in the middle of class because your pencil broke.
It’s usually a good idea to get your basic art supplies. One of the most useful things is a small pair of scissors. As you probably know, most teachers have those horrible safety scissors that couldn’t cut tissue paper. Then you’ll want to buy a 24-pack of colored pencils, because for some reason kids get a rush out of stealing a teacher’s pencils for no particular reason. You’ll probably find that markers will come in handy too, because the markers in the classroom supply are usually all dried out and don’t work.
Since the boxes that colored pencils and markers never last very long, you should bring a couple of rubber bands to keep from getting them all over the bottom of your backpack.
Most of the needed supplies are the same for most classes, with math being the exception. You’ll probably need to get a decent calculator, not a cheap dollar store one that’s going to break the first time you drop it.
You’ll also probably be required to have your own graphing paper. A very useful tool to have is a ruler, because the ones that the teachers have are always dented. Once again, don’t get a cheap one, because it will break and you’ll have useless plastic shards all over the place.
If you want to buy those stretchy book covers, be warned: they don’t really protect your books and there will be holes in the corners of them by the end of the year. Also, they don’t work on paperback books. One kind that I found very useful for covering my books last year were the ones that had adhesive on one side, and could come off when it’s time to turn your books in. These come in rolls that will cover at least two books, sometimes more, for only a dollar or so.
However, some teachers don’t like it when you use these, so you might have to go for the good old paper back ones.
Last, and most certainly not least, you’ll need a good backpack. Most schools will let you carry around your backpack, so you’ll sometimes find yourself with all of your books for every class while going from class to class.
Keep in mind, books and binders can weigh a lot, so don’t buy a cheap $10 backpack that will get a hole in the bottom after the first week of school. Also remember that a lot of pockets aren’t necessarily a good thing. The more little pockets you have, the more time you’ll spend looking for that eraser that you threw in while trying to pack up your stuff when the bell rang.
A good backpack usually has two main pockets and maybe two or three smaller ones on the front. When you pick out your backpack, make sure that it has nice, padded straps that won’t wear away. Also, if you’re planning on hanging your bag in your locker, it’ll need a good hand strap…thingy.
I’ve found that L.L. Bean makes nice, colorful, sturdy backpacks. One good thing about them is that you can order them from a catalog, making sure that you get what you want. Or, if you happen to live near an outlet, you can get a $70 backpack on sale for about $20.
Sometimes you’ll get a teacher that has really weird supplies that they want you to get, but the basic ones that I mentioned should get you through school until you have time to go out and buy the extraneous things that your teachers require.
Stacey Garrett is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.