By Natalie LaPorte

The return to school is usually seen as a return to normalcy. Many may dread it, some may look forward to it — but all acknowledge that it’s a time when one can more or less expect the same procedure.

First, students who are able to do so buy new school supplies — notebooks and binders, folders and pencils. Then, schedules are parsed out and counselors’ offices are flooded with students trying to make changes. Snapchat stories display photos of schedules, captioned invariably with, “Do we have any classes together?”

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And then it’s the first day. The epic highs and lows of school ensue. It’s all about structure, routine. But not this year. This year, students of Truckee High School and other schools within the district weren’t even aware of what we may be doing come fall — at least not until about a month ago.

As a student in Link Crew (upperclassmen who volunteer to help with adjusting incoming freshmen) we didn’t know whether we would even be continuing our program or not. One could not even conduct studies on how everyone felt about returning to school in the midst of a pandemic, because the only real answer was, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

When Truckee High announced distance learning, it meant the loss of the structure and familiarity that comes around every August. But it gets just a little bit worse before it gets better: Truckee High faculty have stated they’ll be re-evaluating every month, so maybe we’ll be back at school in October — maybe not. The uncertainty will continue beyond registration day.

It’s hard to feel comforted at all, given the state of the world at the moment. I didn’t know how I was going to frame this article without sounding like I was whining about the lack of certainty we all feel. But then I was reminded of something.

While out for a walk around Glenshire pond with my younger brother and my father, my brother and I balance-walked across logs anytime they were in our path. We’d balance on the sides of the bridges built around the perimeter of the little pond. Our father, having to pause and wait at the end of every bridge we crossed, remarked, “You know, I once balanced like that on a railroad track for a mile.”

My father is from a very rural part of Michigan, so it wasn’t really what he said that struck me. It was this: Nobody told my brother and I to balance on the sides of the bridges or on the logs. Nobody told my father it would be fun to balance on the railroad tracks for a mile, in a completely different time. Across generations, it was almost instinctual.

THE LITTLE THINGS: While students are faced with uncertainty going back into the school year, there is comfort to be found in the continuity that remains in a simple human moment. Photo by Juliana Demarest

Dorothy L. Sayers once said, “How fleeting are all human passions compared with the continuity of ducks.” 

While the statement may make one laugh out loud, it really is true. A human teleported here from 1904 would be positively terrified, a duck would probably not even notice. As long as we have ponds, trees, and sky, our feathered friends are set.

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but we still have some little things, too. We still have origami, and the art of paper airplanes. We still have going for walks and wrapping yourself in a warm jacket or blanket when you’re cold. We still have the joy of running at a full sprint with the wind in your face. We still have balancing on logs and crossing bridges. And there’s comfort in that. There’s comfort in our sorts of continuity, too. 

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