Dear Chloe: It was 30 years ago - though it seems like yesterday - that I wrote a letter to your mother on her first day of school. And soon you will follow the same path as you begin the adventure that will surely shape your life.
Recently a friend shared a worn, black and white photo taken when I was in the third grade. I glance at the faces of those kids and treasure the fact that many remain among my closest friends to this very day.
Chloe, you too are about to make friends who will literally last a lifetime. It matters little what path in life you will take, these friends will help to form your life, your experiences, your sadness and above all else, your joys.
In the classroom, your world will begin to grow and expand. You're a beautiful, bright young lady and I have no doubt your classroom learning will come fairly easily.
But keep in mind, it's not what you learn but how you apply those lessons to your life that really counts. You will be challenged in your school years just like the challenges you'll face throughout your life. And you will succeed.
As your granddad, I worry about the world you will someday inherit. In some ways, I want to apologize to you and all the other Chloes in the world for the mess we've handed you. But maybe I'm just getting older and those worries are unfounded.
I pray that's the case.
This much I do know. Your generation will face challenges never before seen. I guess that's true of all generations. I just get the sense that your challenges may be greater than some faced before you.
As you boldly step into that first grade class, I want you above all else to enjoy your learning years. It's truly amazing just how much will be packed into your pretty little head in the months and years ahead.
You've already learned the lessons of sharing and playing fair. Well here's a secret from Granddad to Granddaughter. If you apply those simple early lessons throughout your life, you'll be fine. Ok, so there are a few more things to learn but never forget those very first lessons. They are the most important.
Keep a smile on your face and enjoy the ride through your school years. And one day when your classroom days are completed, we'll depend on you and your classmates to continue improving and expanding our world.
That may seem like an awesome task right now. But I have all the faith in the world that your generation will be up to that task.
I Love You,
Chloe Elizabeth Caskey enters the first grade at Kehrs Mill Elementary School in Chesterfield, Mo., this week.