Going to a private school in a small town proves to have its challenges. We are locally famous and that's about it. We have enough students to fill our halls and to make social distancing a challenge. So I suppose my insight on the ins and outs of school during this time period is not as resourceful as one that goes to a larger school, but I hope my insight is enough.
Before coronavirus came to the U.S., starting school had a routine. We went to orientation, got everything squared away as far as forms to sign and lockers to organize. There was a certain formality to the process, and finalization, the finalization being that we were getting an idea of what the next nine months would look like. It's been comfortable, starting school in the exact same way as every year before.
This year was different, to say the least. We went from being completely virtual to going back to school full time in a matter of three months. That isn't a lot of time to adjust to the normal routines of waking up in time for the bus and not being able to go to the refrigerator in the middle of class, as well as having to dress appropriately, for there are no cameras to turn on and off. And yet, I find the gathering of students to be quite refreshing, as do most, and I dread the day if we once again go completely online.
As this is a documentation where we may look back on these days, when our children complain that their school banned the use of hoverboards for mobility around the school, or whatever inane controversy that will plague our future generations, I suppose I must mention everyone's least favorite thing: masks. They are required statewide in 34 of the 50 and the states that do not have a statewide mandate have left it up to their larger cities to dictate who wears what. In addition, they are required in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
There are very few people who actually enjoy wearing them. Now, I suppose I could go into the argument of whether they are suitable for children and adults alike, but that would be disregarding the fact that they are here, and we need to adjust to our circumstances. In my school, masks are required for all intents and purposes of keeping us Corona free. What I find to be rather obnoxious is the directive that they must be worn outside, where even our governor says they need not be used. However, I also understand the idea behind it, they really do hate the idea of having to go virtual, or have any cases connected to our school.
While masks are not the greatest threat to human existence, they cause quite a bit of trouble for high school students. Most of the other issues related to this year haven't happened to me, and I wish not to water down the effects of other issues of the year by pretending I know what has happened. Instead, I have enumerated my testimony on mask wearing and the issues surrounding that, and I shall leave the other events of 2020 to those that have taken part in them. As such, I leave with one final thought.
Inevitably, when I am asked what my advice to incoming freshmen will be, I will have to say this, "Always be ready to adjust." I say this because three years ago, when I was preparing to go into high school, I never thought I would be attending school in what seems to be the fashion trend of the year. Most others had different fashion trends in mind, and as such were just as surprised as I was. Nevertheless, this will definitely go down as my most memorable year, for a number of reasons.
High school for me has never been about the memories, I figured this because the opposite was stressed to me the summer before I started. However, this year will certainly be different. For the yearbook, our fall sports pages will be littered with pictures of children wearing masks running up and down the field. Candid shots of the classes will be of kids and teachers alike in masks. Any cafeteria shots will be of a wider scope, because groups of friends are spread out to four tables instead of the usual one.
Probably the most memorable part of it all, is that we can only see half of people's faces, but we see the whole of their heart. Even though no one likes wearing masks, we do it. It isn't because they are comfortable by any means, or because celebrities told us they would be wearing one for the Grammys, and they definitely wouldn't be putting one of theirs up for auction. We do it because we care. We do it because we want to stay in school. We do it for the teachers and other staff who are at risk. And in turn, they do it for any family that we have who may be at risk. They do it because virtual learning doesn't suit everyone. They do it because they care. And in part, that is what being human is about.
In short order, I have learned high school is not about the homecoming dances or the football games. It's not about crowding the hallways and making memories that will last a lifetime. It's about coming together as a community to support one another through what could be the defining factor of our generation. High school is about learning to become a contributing member of society, and the mountains we have to climb to get there. Right now, whenever anyone speaks of 2020, we all want to forget about it, it's been a tough year to say the least.
However, in 20 years, I tend to think we will look at 2020, and we'll marvel at what we had to go through. We witnessed the race riots, the economy tumbling, and wildfires across the globe. All of these things are leaving wounds somehow, and all of us have been impacted by one of these events, if not more. So right now, to everyone starting school wearing a mask or being away from everyone you're used to seeing, or wherever in 2020 you happen to be, know that things will get better before they get worse again.
Everyone's been having a tough year, some have had it harder than others. However, I take comfort in the fact that we have made it through together. We haven't always come together as a country to support each other, but we have come together as communities. And at the end of the day, those are the people that matter the most to us, and the people we look forward to seeing at the end of the day. The people who we have worn masks for, protested for, put out fires for. They are our communities, our families, our homes. The ones who carried us when we were down. At the end of the day, they are the ones that matter the most to us.
Those are the same people we need to remember, because a year like this only comes once in a great while. And whenever a year like this has happened, there has always been the most learning to be done. And if you ask me, we have all learned quite a lot.