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Two Idaho Teens Share Back To School Stories

This fall has been a back to school season unlike any other. The routines of students, families, and educators all over the country have been turned upside down. Last month, we asked listeners to share some of their own back to school experiences for our series "My Story."

For Catherine, a high schooler from Sandpoint, Idaho, this school year is unique not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but because she entered a new school system. 

“Coming from six years of homeschooling, starting in 6th grade, it’s a bit nerve-racking to go into a public school this year. The way it’s done is certainly different. Having multiple teachers instead of one--my mom--can be a bit confusing at first. Instead of having lunch with my siblings, it’s with friends. . . six feet apart.” 

Add to that transition the protocols for keeping students safe and healthy, and the daily high school routine looks a little different than in years past. 

“Nothing is what it used to be. Instead of a full week of school, at the school, students are only there two days per week or purely online. We all have to wear masks or face shields due to this outbreak, stay three to six feet apart, and sanitize desks after each class.”

Some things about high school haven’t changed though. There’s still drama and conflicts with friends. For Elise, another high schooler from north Idaho, the stress of a global pandemic contributed a rift in her friend group.

“The worst part about all of it was these were people that I’ve been friends with for years. COVID happened and that made things hard. So they slowly started taking things out on me. I was becoming touchy as well. I didn’t want to deal with it. So I left that group, and the pain of having to get over it has been hard.”

Elise says she’s relying on other friends and family to get her through a hard time. But she wishes people would remember how difficult this pandemic is for everyone and act accordingly.

“No one deserves to have their friends turn on them. Everyone deserves to be treated respectfully and kindly.”

For these two teenagers, this back to school season has been full of changes and uncertainty, like it has for families around the country.

To hear more “Back to School” listener stories, or to submit your own, visit


Chris Maccini previously worked at SPR as Morning Edition host and producing arts and special programming such as The Bookshelf, Poetry Moment, Northwest Arts Review, special features and more.