New calendar a positive change

November 23, 2010 — by Giulia Curcelli

With visions of dancing sugarplums currently tainted by the thought of finals, many students can hardly relax during winter break. The holidays are no longer time to enjoy with family but rather an opportunity to spend more time worrying about the upcoming exams taking place just three weeks into the new year. Luckily, with the passing of a new schedule by the school board on Nov. 16, next year’s finals will be held before winter break, and vacation can finally serve its intended purpose.

The district’s new schedule will now allow students to rest and unwind before the start of the second semester as they should have always been allowed to do. Since many students feel inordinate amounts of stress to perform to higher standards than they are often capable of, finals are a time of unhealthy strain and worry. Without two weeks to recharge for the second semester, students can easily become ill from lack of sleep and too much pressure.

Having finals after winter break, many student do not study over their vacations despite being given the opportunity. By moving finals to before break, students no longer need to worry about forgetting the material learned in their various courses. Having finals before vacation is not only a more accurate reflection of what a student has learned and retained over the semester but is also a better reflection on the teachers and school as a whole.

With the new schedule, though, semesters will now be imbalanced. Currently, semesters one and two contain 89 and 91 days, respectively. The new schedule, however, will have 83 days in the first semester and 97 in the second. This 14-day difference poses potential problems to the curriculum of single-semester courses such as health, geography, government, and economics, giving teachers more than two extra weeks in the second semester.

Whether this means teaching at a more accelerated pace for semester one or at a more relaxed pace for semester two, the benefits of the new schedule far outweigh possible complications. Also, with AP testing taking place in the spring, the extra days in the second semester can now compensate for days not taught due to the testing.

In addition, some students oppose the new schedule due to the start of the school year being eight days earlier. Yet, school will also end eight earlier, allowing a jump start for summer plans. When exhausted and drained at the conclusion of school, students would have more difficulty pushing themselves for eight additional days than they would returning to school only eight days earlier with refreshed and relaxed minds. The earlier conclusion of school also results in fewer crowds, nicer weather and less expensive fares for those traveling during the summer.

With next year’s schedule most notably moving finals to before winter break, students can now fully relax during their vacation without worrying about forgetting material. Though the lengths of the semesters are uneven, teachers can compensate for this relatively minor flaw, and while school begins earlier, it also ends sooner. The adoption of this new calendar is a victory for students, parents and teachers alike.