Shifting School Year Forward Reduces Stress

Annette Ungermann, Opinion Editor

The current school-year calendar places finals 2 weeks after Winter Break, which means that some measure of academic stress accompanies students home for the holiday. The return to school in the new year is thus full of worry as students struggle to remember material.

This stress is fortified with the introduction of new material during the 2 weeks between winter break and the final exam week. Students are also challenged to reacclimate to the rigor of school after the slow pace of vacation. With the much-lauded new block schedule also shortening the amount of instructional time, the current school calendar is a recipe for disaster.

This could all be remedied with a shift in the school calendar, which moves the whole year up a few weeks in order to complete the 1st semester prior to the winter break. Entering finals, students would be primed to recall the semester’s content, and the following break would be a true respite from academics.

The AUHSD school district is currently considering such a change to the calendar with a task force of students, teachers, parents and administrators designated to research the various options and ultimately provide a recommendation.

Though students prone to procrastination may use the winter break to catch up before the end of the semester, completing the 1st semester before winter break would provide a reduction in overall student anxiety and improve student performance on final exams. Students would also be able to enter the new year and the new semester with a fresh mental approach, and winter break would be a time of true relaxation without lingering thoughts of the finals to come.

Winter break should be a time for relaxation, not a time to worry. With a truly stress-free break, students will return to school refreshed and excited to learn. The district would be doing the right thing by shifting the school calendar forward in order to complete the 1st semester prior to winter break.