As Normal as 2021 Can Be
By Matt Nicholas, Exeter-Milligan Science Instructor
Normal. What is normal? Normal is defined as conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. This year has had many aspects that have not been normal, but in my opinion things at EM have been quite normal. I have witnessed our students, staff, and community come together in the strangest of circumstances and create normalcy.
The students still hate Monday tests, and love Friday afternoons. They still support each other academically, athletically, and personally. Exeter Milligan students get on each other’s nerves just like any family does, but they love each other just the same. They have taken all of the changes in stride and made our school just as welcoming a place as it ever has been. When their classmates were quarantined, they made sure that the “face on the computer screen” felt included. When activities were lost due to health and safety concerns, they didn’t gripe, but instead focused on the next thing. You can have all the technology and facilities in the world, but without our most important asset, students, a school cannot reach its full potential. And I would like to thank our students for their commitment to making our “normal” quite special.
The mental strain on our students has been great, but the strain on our staff has been tough as well. Kids are inherently flexible and much more equipped to handle less than ideal situations, but as a teacher that has gotten used to doing things a certain way over the last decade, I have realized that my flexibility (physically and mentally) is not what it used to be. I have tried my best to roll with the punches over the last year, and our staff has too. Specifically, Mrs. Murphy, band director extraordinaire, has so radically changed the way she has done things in the past to cope with the current situation. I have had the pleasure to substitute for a few of her classes and every time was so impressed by the organization and efficiency that she has employed to keep the EM band as strong as ever. I am sure that I can speak for everyone in the EM family in saying that her contributions to our school will be missed. Many other teachers and staff members have, of course, made this year as “normal” as possible and there are too many examples to try and summarize in this article.
In a community such as ours, the students and staff make up a large portion of the population, but there are many others that keep a small town humming. From the grocery store employees that never took a day off and always put public safety ahead of their own, to the everyday resident that supported our activities in person when they could or online when they had to, and everyone in between. It takes a village… and in our village, “normal” is quite special.
Normal is defined as conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Sometimes we are unusual, sometimes we are atypical, and more often than not, we are better than expected. We are all on the same team, no matter what brand of tractor we like or which NFL team we root for… We all contribute to making our “normal” work for everyone. We are better together. We are EM.
Pictured are 8th grade students Carter Milton, Joleen Vossler, Liberty Johnson, Kierra Papik and Lily Jeffries