Inconvenient Homecoming date yet again

September 3, 2011 — by Matt Foley and Cecilia Hollenhorst

Homecoming. The word carries images of fun and celebration for students. It is supposedly a week to forget stress while showing spirit through dancing in quad days and cheering on the football team. But again this year, the dark cloud of SATs and major tests will cast their shadow on the days of festivity.

Homecoming. The word carries images of fun and celebration for students. It is supposedly a week to forget stress while showing spirit through dancing in quad days and cheering on the football team. But again this year, the dark cloud of SATs and major tests will cast their shadow on the days of festivity.

For the second consecutive year, Homecoming is in the same week as the October SAT and the end of the first six-week grading period. Students already overwhelmed by projects and homework in preparation for the end of the grading period will need to decide between academics and lasting high school memories.

Although students invest months of preparation into the SAT, the few weeks prior to these tests are a crucial time for them to get in any last-minute studying they may need, as well as catch up on sleep so as to be focused on the day of the test. However, students under pressure to memorize quad day routines, create large-scale decorations, write essays and study for tests may not find the time to get more than a few hours of sleep the nights of Homecoming week.

While teachers often attempt to lighten the homework load during the week of Homecoming, most find it necessary to hold unit tests or assign large projects during the sixth week of school in order to fit in enough major assignments for the six-week grading period. When the two weeks overlap, it not only forces students to struggle to choose between spirit and studying, but also puts teachers in a difficult situation.

It is understandable for Homecoming to be scheduled around a game the football team is likely to win, but holding it the same week as two very important academic deadlines will yield more problems than benefits. If students are exhausted from late-night quad day practice followed by even later studying, they will not be able to enjoy a football victory, not to mention one that falls the night before the SAT.

If holding Homecoming during the sixth week is really the only option, an imbalanced grading period ending a week later (seven weeks instead of six) could be explored in order to allow students to truly enjoy Homecoming and understand the importance of grading period checkpoints. Just as the calendar includes imbalanced semesters this year to accommodate December break, imbalanced grading periods would allow an extra week to fit in unit tests and projects while also leaving time for Homecoming.

Students should be encouraged to spend the end of the grading period studying and asking teachers questions, not provided the ultimate distraction of an all-week, school-wide party.

Though many see Homecoming as a kick-off to the year, it may be more enjoyable if used as a mid-semester celebration. If scheduled two weeks after the six-week grading period, from Oct. 24-29, Homecoming would serve as a reward for students after studying hard for the SATs and getting grades sorted out before the six-week grading period ends. While a less-likely (though still entirely possible) win in a game facing Milpitas is not an ideal setup for Homecoming week, neither is a stress-filled week of important tests and events.

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