Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, classes will start and end a week earlier, which will allow finals to be moved to before winter break. School administrators believe that this change will help to reduce student workload and stress during break.
“Often students feel the need to work on final exam study guides or other work over break, and thus they are not taking much needed time off,” chemistry teacher Allison Curtin said. “I know some students like that time for studying, however taking a break is an important thing for students’ overall well-being.”
This year, along with previous years, finals are to be taken the second week that school is in session after winter break, Jan. 14-16.
“Every year, when I come back from break, I’ve forgotten everything, and I have to relearn it,” junior Gaby Danijarsa said.
Students are often expected to study over winter break, as they only have a week of review once they get back before the tests are given. Taking this common complaint into consideration, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon presented his idea for change during last year’s May 7 board meeting, and it was unanimously approved two weeks later, at the May 21 board meeting.
“I personally like the idea of exams being before break because then I don’t have the stress and anticipation of them during the holidays,” junior Piper Bailey said. “I’m excited to feel like I can fully relax.”
To announce the change, there was a brief mention in the ETHS Back To School Guide and the 2019-2020 school calendar on the ETHS website was updated. Formal announcements about the change will be sent out to students during second semester, Witherspoon shared in an email to the Evanstonian. However, not everyone is on board with this change. While studying for finals during break can be one person’s nightmare, for others, it is helpful time that can be used to prepare.
“I feel like there’s just so much that goes on before break already. Trying to cram in finals before that is going to be really stressful,” sophomore Howard Godfrey said. “The break is also time that we use to prepare for finals – well, some of us. It’s kind of unfair in my opinion.”
Many teachers that teach semester long classes are expressing frustration as well. Second semester is already five days longer than the first semester, but now with the change, they will become even more lopsided, with second semester being three weeks longer than first.
“I’m going to have to omit a lot of what I feel is important to teach for the first semester, which is not fair to my first semester students, nor is it fair to my second semester students,” wellness teacher Montell Wilburn said.
On the other hand, theatre teacher Timothy Herbert thinks that having less time to teach during first semester will push teachers to think about their lesson plans, and challenge the importance and impact of what they’re teaching.
“I think it’s healthy for people that teach semester long classes to really take a look at what they’re doing in a conscientious way, because of this change. It is really kind of scary, but it also might be a good opportunity to make things better,” Hebert said.