In the process of writing a story about kindergarten assessments last week, I had a strong sense of déjà vu. As soon as it hit, I explained to a co-worker that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about work and whenever I fall back asleep, usually have dreams about work. It’s a vicious cycle.

In looking at Hamilton Elementary School’s top assessment score for the county, I couldn’t remember if I dreamt about talking to the attendance center’s principal, Michelle Stevens, about this or if it was just as successful of a score as one of the school’s previous assessment scores.

Regardless, this job is an ever-spinning cycle of déjà vu, just like yours probably is. I’ve worked plenty of other jobs knowing what to expect day-in and day-out. When I was mowing grass for a living, my schedule was so locked in that I could say on March 31 exactly where I would be at 2:37 p.m. on Sept. 17, barring a drought or a torrential downpour that day.

With this job, though, every day is an unpredictable adventure. The older I get, the more I appreciate the really boring days when everybody gets along with each other and there’s no sounds of sirens.

This year has so far thrown some stories like I’ve never covered before, making for new learning experiences. So many of the others I’ve written and am prepared to write for the rest of the year seem like just another verse of the song that never ends.

With that being said, it’s really easy to get a sense of déjà vu, and it stops and makes you wonder every single time. Did I already have this conversation? Was it just a dream? Am I dreaming right now?

On the rougher, more controversial days with the job (which are unavoidable), it’s great to daydream about the stories when we’re all celebrating the same wins and attributes for the county.

Even though Monroe County is one of Mississippi’s largest counties geographically, it’s really just a small town. Looking at all of Mississippi’s 82 counties, it’s a small world, so I guarantee you have a mutual acquaintance with someone you’ve never met in Picayune, Laurel or somewhere in the Delta.

How small of a world it is statewide never dawned on me until I was talking with someone from Oxford while on a mission trip four years ago in Honduras. His father-in-law happened to be one of my journalism professors in college. Years later, someone I met from the Mississippi Main Street Association turned out to be from his same Oxford church and Aberdeen’s superintendent said he used to work with the wife of one of the main people I worked with on the mission trip.

We’re all connected in some degree or another, and that’s apparently the way it’s supposed to be. That ‘Love thy neighbor’ thing should resonate a little more knowing that.

It’s déjà vu going through these visitation lines at funeral homes, it’s déjà vu reading these prayer requests, it’s déjà vu saying, “Did you hear about such and such’s good news?” It’s just different people involved each time, but the point is we’re there for each other during those ups and downs.

Hats off to Hamilton’s kindergartners and kindergarten teachers for last school year’s scores, and I’m sure I’ll have another case of déjà vu with you soon enough for another one of your ups.

Until we meet again with another story about your good news, I’m going to keep taking every other unpredictable adventure with this job as it goes and hope for the best. At the end of the work days, it’s the good times that make you want to have a sense of déjà vu.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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