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Other Voices: The soul of Nevada City

Nevada City is famous for its parades down Broad Street, whether it’s the patriotism of the Fourth of July, the pride of Constitution Day, or the revelry of Mardi Gras.

My favorite Nevada City parade, though, isn’t on a weekend or national holiday and doesn’t draw any tourists. It takes place in spring and it’s over in about 30 minutes – tops – though you’ll be lucky to leave it anytime inside an hour and a half … sometimes two, depending on who you run into (it’s like SPD, that way).

No, my favorite parade is the Nevada City Elementary School’s Book Parade, where each class dresses up in the spirit of a particular book (think “Harold and the Purple Crayon”) and marches down Broad Street. Shopkeepers come out to watch, but otherwise the historic downtown streets are pretty much just lined with neighbors, friends, and families calling out to one another, watching each other’s kids go by, marveling at how little brothers and sisters who once watched the parade from a stroller are now marching down Broad dressed up as Charlotte, Wilbur, or Fern.



In one magical morning, you’re reminded of every reason why you love raising a family in Nevada City.

It’s a singular place, Nevada City, a small town with a big heart and an abundance of families willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved with their kids’ lives.




It’s also a place that embraces its vivid historical heritage, looking to the future while valuing and preserving its past. There’s an unbroken flow from “them days” to “these days” that brings constancy, unity, and a deepened sense of belonging to our community.

Put simply, Nevada City has soul.

Nevada City Elementary is a part of that soul. You can feel it every time you visit – it’s there in the historic neighborhoods you pass through on your way downtown, there in the classic lines of the building itself, and it’s there (especially, it’s there) in the dedication of its teachers, staff, and legions of volunteers.

Generations of Nevada City’s children have lived, learned, and grown at NCE and they pay that debt back in the best way possible — by sending their own children and getting involved with their education. The legacy continues; the heritage grows.

Is that legacy now in jeopardy? Rather than firing more teachers and leaving classrooms at one school empty, the School Board is proposing merging the K-1 grades from Nevada City Elementary and Gold Run onto a single campus and leasing the other to recoup costs. Would this mean an end to the quality education our children have previously enjoyed? An end to the parade?

I don’t think so. I’m not so naive as to pretend that it won’t be an issue, but here’s the thing — the backbone of our schools isn’t in the buildings, it’s in the people who work in them, the students who attend them, and the community that supports them … our friends and neighbors.

I’m a Nevada City Elementary parent and I love the school dearly. I’m confident that whatever difficult decision the board comes to, both the Nevada City Elementary and Gold Run communities will come together to make our children’s education the best it can be. See you at the parade!

Sid Heaton lives in Nevada City.


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