Finals to be before winter break

Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

After listening to teachers and students alike, the administration decided that for the 2012-2013 school year, semester finals will be taken before winter break, instead of taking place two weeks after the holiday.

Principal Gavan Goodrich said that the change was a combination of taking feedback from within the school and studying the implementations of other districts.

“Originally, when we looked at the schedule we looked at the number of days in the first semester versus the number of days in the second semester and you didn’t want to have eleven or twelve less days in first semester versus the second semester,” Goodrich said. “Kids are going to get jipped out of some instruction for those semester courses.”

School starting later and later in August originally forced semester finals to be taken in the second semester.

“Now we see that in the second semester, we’re giving up a lot of days to testing in the schedule so it makes them more even,” Goodrich said.

For many students, the new testing schedule is a welcome change.

“Nobody studies after winter break,” sophomore Fred Harris said. “Putting it beforehand prevents all the loss of knowledge that goes on during those two weeks of idleness.”

Junior Abbey Bankes is equally enthusiastic about the change.

“Exams should be before winter break,” Bankes said. “It would allow students more time to study and they would have more relaxation for spring.”

Junior Stephen Edlen believes that having semester exams earlier allows students to utilize material learned in class, rather than relearn information after the break.

“If you wait to have finals after winter break, you lose a lot of the knowledge stored in short-term memory,” Edlen said.

Although students were pushing for a change in the semester finals schedule, they were not the only ones. AP English teacher Kathryn Pabst has advocated significantly for the change and is excited to finally see it implemented.

“When looked at from the student perspective, it seems the natural decision,” Pabst said. “It is more like college and what students will experience in the years to come.”

Pabst felt that time spent re-teaching materials to students was inefficient and would prefer to spend that time moving forward in the curriculum. But the issue was much more complicated beneath the surface, she said.

“There are many considerations before making this kind of a decision,” Pabst said. “One of them is the mandated start date for school in August and the discrepancy of teaching days in the fall semester vs. the spring semester especially for those classes that are only a single semester.”

However, Pabst said, every decision made boils down to one question: What is best for the students?

The answer, according to Pabst, is a real break from school.

“Students would have a true break from school work without the need for assignments or projects over what should be a time to re-energize,” Pabst said. “Even I believe that break time should be a real break from academic work. With exams completed that feeling of closure for most is a real moment of celebration.”