Anita Li '21
If you take a walk through NCS during pre-pandemic times, you will find at least one student passed out on a couch. Not from a night of crazy partying, but as a break from the arduous workload and high expectations. Before the COVID pandemic, Willa Spalter ’21 napped on the couches in the Student Commons at least twice a week. When she’s sleeping on the couch, “it feels like [she is] at home.” NCS’s napping culture is essential to the school’s identity. “There’s a lot of value in making spaces your own and you can do that at a school like NCS because [there aren’t] many students,” says Asha Butterworth ’21. “I feel like NCS has become my second home…it’s nice to see people being able to relax.” Spalter agrees, saying, “It goes to show how comfortable we feel around each other.”
However, this essential aspect of NCS culture was wiped away when NCS released its in-school learning plan. The school decided to close all lounge areas in the library and remove the couches in Student Commons. Additionally, students have set locations for all free periods, so wondering the halls of Hearst and taking naps on the third-floor couches is no longer a possibility.
Sure, the cohorts can get annoying and the fifteen-minute eating period is intimidating, but those are only minor inconveniences compared to the biggest attack on NCS student privileges: the freedom to nap. Did you know that the writers of the Declaration of Independence originally wanted our unalienable rights to be “Life, Liberty, and Naps?” Yeah, I didn’t know that either. Probably because it’s not true. But you know what I mean. Students are suffering under their new hibernation restraints. “By removing couches, [NCS is] telling me that [school] can’t be my second home, that it has to just be a learning environment,” says Butterworth. “In this setup, there’s no place to relax because you’re either sitting in a classroom or you’re sitting in a tent.”
I have to agree. As a self-proclaimed seasoned napping veteran myself, the library couches have always been my favorite spot to fall asleep. There’s nothing like disrupting the entire library with my phone’s alarm. My ringtone of choice? Apple’s “By the Seaside,” of course. There’s something beautiful in the spaces that NCS provides its students, it shows the trust and comfort we give each other every day. NCS has taught us to dream, in every sense of the word.
More importantly, I can’t imagine the freshmen going through NCS not seeing their peers nodding off in public. A formative NCS rite of passage is tentatively taking that first nap, fearing judgment, only to realize that no one cares. There is no shame in snoozing.
I guess we do have to care about protecting people during a pandemic, and getting sick from an incredibly contagious virus would be kinda annoying. But until NCS is ready to open not only its classrooms but also its sleeping spaces, in-person school will not be the same.