Remembering when days were “normal”


Julia Nardone

One year ago today, NPHS students walked out of those front doors. They wouldn’t be back for nearly 8 months.

One year ago today, I remember the day starting out to be characteristically unremarkable. It was cold and dark outside when I got to school, as it was everyday. Kids were everywhere, whether they were in the cafeteria with their friends or relaxing in a random hallway. There were no masks, no restrictions. It was just normal.

On the bus, it was warm and stuffy, with 40 kids packed on, multiple kids to every seat. It was normal; kind of annoying, honestly, but normal. Now, the buses have no more than 10 kids on a good day.

The halls used to be packed. You would have to squeeze your way through the infamous E-pod clog or the hallway in F-pod. It pains me to even think about how much I was breathing in everyone else’s air. 

Now, I can’t imagine walking around school without a mask on.

I had a Math quiz first period. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do well on it, and I was nervous for our big test the next week. I was already planning on when I would study for it, along with everything else I had going on the next week, over the weekend. Thank God I didn’t have to take it since I probably would have bombed it.

In Biology class with Mr. Faikish, it was routine for us to discuss the current state of the coronavirus in the country. I remember there being a couple hundred cases at the time, with only a few in the county. We would sit and listen to Mr. Faikish explain what a pandemic was and the symptoms of the virus, all while sitting at the gross, germy lab tables in C-pod. A part of me feels like we knew that things would get worse, but we never actually expected it to happen as quickly as it did.

During lunch, I bought an iced coffee from the Cookie Corner. We can’t do that anymore. I had an essay for APUSH the next period, so I wanted to make sure I was awake enough to take it. I sat and ate with my friends in the cafeteria talking about all sorts of things. Covid was one of them, but it wasn’t like we were taking it seriously or anything. To us, it was no big deal. 

In art class, we weren’t allowed to share pencils and brushes to “prevent the spread” of Covid…as if that was actually going to do anything. I remember we had just started a new project where we would sit out in the hallway and draw the interior of the school. It was going to be so fun. Unfortunately, we never finished it.

In my English class, which was 8th period for me, we were starting to write our critical papers. It was pretty chill, everyone was mingling and writing around the classroom, sitting next to each other and snacking on leftover food from lunch. Towards the end of the period, Mrs. Sieller got a text from another teacher saying Governor Wolf mandated a 2-week quarantine for Montgomery County.

The room went crazy. Everyone was cheering and happily putting everything away since we had just heard we were getting the equivalent of a winter break in the middle of March. I mean, what better way to make a bunch of sleep-deprived kids happy then to tell them they’re free for 2 weeks.

It was the first time in a while that I had seen the school, collectively as a whole, happy about something. Everyone was in a good mood and there was a wave of excitement that diffused throughout the halls. 

On the bus, it was loud. People were talking animatedly to each other as we sat side by side, mask free. It was a sunny day. It felt like the last day of school. Which I guess it kind of was. 

We were expecting a 2-week break. Instead, we got 6 and a half months. It’s hard to imagine what life was like then and how much it’s changed in the span of a year. Now, we can only hope that by this time next year, things will look more like they did before the virus… normal.