Shari's 5th Grade Memories

5th Grade Shari, By Shari Valencic

I attended 5th grade at St. Mary’s School in Vermilion, Ohio, in 1980.  I rode my bike to and from school every day. I had two teachers: the school principal, Sister Mary Lucilla, was my teacher in the morning, and Mrs. Molesky was my teacher after lunch. I had a very small class and am fortunate to still be in touch with several members through Facebook. My best friends in 5th grade were Debby Firestine and Sara Howley.  My most memorable assignments were monthly state reports, which I copied directly from the first few paragraphs in entries in the World Book Encyclopedia.  I got A+s on all of them, though this is not something I am particularly proud of now, as a teacher. The biggest event of every school day at St. Mary’s was recess, where the 5th and 6th graders (the oldest in the school) played kickball every day. I played 1st base for, I think, all 360 days of those two school years.

Reading was never my favorite thing to do, but I did love books by Judy Blume. My favorite titles were Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret; Blubber; and Starring Sally J. Freeman as Herself and I still have my original books in my bookcase at home!  I did, however, love reading Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, and 16 magazines in my free time. I was quite fond of TV stars Scott Baio and Parker Stevenson. I even had a guinea pig named after Scott’s character, Chachi, on his show Happy Days.

My favorite thing to do outside of school in 5th grade, hands-down, was roller skating, especially during the summer. I roller skated every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night at Gem Beach Skatleland Roller Rink on Catawba Island, Ohio.  Some of my best childhood memories were during those days, and I can play foosball and PacMan on roller skates quite awesomely!

Three very important things happened to me in 5th grade:

#1, I met my best friend (to this day!), Michele. We met at the bottom of a swimming pool. She is the sister I never had.

#2, My dad got my family our first video cassette recorder (VCR). We were the only family on our island who had one, and every day throngs of kids would come to our house to watch the few (and expensive … they were about $100 each!) videotapes that we had over and over and over again. To this day, Michele, my brother Frank, and I can recite the movies Grease, Jaws, and Bye-Bye Birdie by heart from this experience.

#3, The Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in Washington. This was the first news event I can remember following in earnest at school and watching on TV. I was very excited to visit the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument with my daughters in 2011.  I had to drive an hour and 15 minutes from civilization to get there, but it was worth it!  Check out the history of this very cool place and its “volcano cam” at