Back to the Basics

NASH’s transition to full in-person instruction led to a surprising sense of normalcy.


photo by Sydney Frencho

Ms. Schmiech teaches her 2nd period Honors Meteorology class on Monday. Full classrooms are now the standard at NASH, which can cause both excitement and anxiety.

Kristen Kinzler, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Prepare yourselves, because I’m about to say something that I think no second semester senior at North Allegheny has ever uttered before. Here it goes. I was really looking forward to waking up at six in the morning and coming to school today. The thought actually excited me. Crazy, right?

But after a year full of an exhausting combination of asynchronous classes, remote learning, and a hybrid model, being back in a classroom with all my peers two weeks ago was surreal and absolutely wonderful. And, like a complete dork, I couldn’t wait to do it all again after the juniors got their chance last week.

Being back in the building with all the seniors felt like I could finally release a deep breath I didn’t even realize I had been holding in. I didn’t know what exactly was wrong with being in the classroom during the cohort schedule, besides the obvious concerns about getting sick, but even the most basic, familiar activities just felt off. The mostly empty rooms and hallways were depressing, even though they were for our own safety. Everything felt tainted by isolation and uncertainty.

And while the coronavirus’s presence surely hasn’t gone away, having our entire grade back does make things more normal. We can see our classmates that we haven’t seen in an entire year. We don’t have to sit through the awkward silences that are a consequence of only having four kids in a classroom. We can laugh about things that feel infinitely funnier in a group environment.

We can enjoy school again for the first time in twelve months. I didn’t understand how monumental that was until I started talking to my friends and teammates about how it felt to be back. Few of us expected the transition to have such an impact on our lives so soon, but most of us were surprised that we actually loved it.

I realized how much I missed my classmates when I saw them in the hallways, and I learned how comforting I had once found the hustle and bustle of NASH just as the building came back to life.”

The first day with the whole class back felt like a field trip in elementary school– the ones where you had your clothes all laid out the night before, you were going to sit with your best friend on the bus, and you got to go to some cool gift shop or food court afterwards. I’m still not sure how something that was once so standard now seems so special.

I realized how much I missed my classmates when I saw them in the hallways, and I learned how comforting I had once found the hustle and bustle of NASH just as the building came back to life. I didn’t even know how much I longed for so many aspects of school until I got to experience them again. It was bittersweet, and it made me oddly sentimental. 

If I wanted to read into the situation more, I could probably claim that it’s all some kind of big lesson– something about not taking life as you know it for granted or appreciating the people around you. While that’s true, at this moment, I really don’t care. I’m too busy enjoying every second of it to think about some universal takeaway.

Still, it’s impossible to ignore the reality of the situation. In order to attend school together again, we had to sacrifice some safety precautions. Like many of my classmates, I find it all a little nerve-wracking. It’s hard to tell if the district made the right decision, and I constantly go back and forth between being thrilled and anxious.

There are faults in the system, and in certain situations, I do get slightly uncomfortable. A couple of my classes feel overcrowded, and I’m often worried about all the ways that our new method of learning could go horribly wrong.

But during a pandemic, we’re all just doing our best to make decisions with incomplete sets of information, so our worlds often end up being imperfect. It’s necessary to face those flaws, and I certainly have been very critical of our school’s policy in the past, but it’s equally important to embrace the small victories as they come.

Maybe it’s an indicative of an abnormal year that I count a kid I hardly know making our entire class laugh and our teacher telling us all to quiet down as victories, but I’ll gladly take it. 

For the first time in a long time, it’s good to be back.