Adjusting Semester Schedule Mixed Bag

Cat Kolm, Staff Writer

While many are excited for the approaching winter break and the holidays, some students are also gearing up for the less eagerly anticipated winter finals.

This stressful week starts the 14th of January and ends on the 17th, with no school that Friday.  Due to quirks in this year’s calendar, the late holiday break means there is only time for 1 week of review upon the returning, instead of the traditional 2.

“The winter finals are twice as hard because we all forget what we’ve learned [over the break],” said sophomore Spencer Tagg.

Yes, an obvious solution to this frantic cramming the week before finals is studying over the break.  It’s a tried and true approach to learning, but let’s be honest – is the majority of the student body going to sit in front of a desk with flashcards when they could be outside ice-skating or window-shopping with friends?

I don’t think so.  Despite finals forcing students to continue studying through the break, they add an amount of stress high school students don’t need.  Yes, winter finals are a helpful mid-year checking point for teachers to see how their students are doing; but placing them right after winter break throws finals stress on top of a very cluttered list of things students have to worry about.

“It’s the most stressful time of the year,” added junior Nikitha Kodali.

A way to avoid this stressful situation would be to move the finals to precede the break.  This would leave the holidays blissfully stress-free, and teachers would have the opportunity to start with a brand new chapter or section instead of trying to make students recall the lessons taught before the break.

Kodali said, “If they were pushed before the winter break we’d have the break to relax.”

The Palo Alto Unified School District attempted to move finals before their holiday break, but the proposal sparked so much controversy that it was dropped from the ballot.  The people behind the opposition would rather sacrifice their winter break studying than have their final grades come out during vacation time.  Perhaps they were worried about killing that festive holiday spirit.

“If [the winter finals] were before the break, we’d get our grades throughout it,” said junior Katherine Friedman.  “We’d be screwed if our grades were bad.”

Some students argue that studying over the break and taking finals in January is a blessing in disguise.

“I think it’s going to be really stressful,” said Tagg. “but there’s more time to study [over the break].”

But will students really make use of the extra time over the break?  I know I’m going to study for at least half of the break for finals (ah, the enchanting life of a high school junior), but how do other students and even other juniors prepare for the winter finals?

“I usually study two days in advance of the final,” admitted Tagg.  “I don’t find them very stressful.”

“I look at my notes,” said Kodali.  “I don’t study as much as other people…I have a good memory.”

Studying over break for finals is, in my opinion, a mixed bag.  Students can either live with the way it is now and have a stressful winter break, or fight to change it and endure a different form of a stressful break. The one where report card grades land them on the “naughty” list.