Opinion | After eliminating semester exams, ETHS should move back fall start date

Christopher Vye, Staff Writer

When ETHS announced that semester exams would no longer be held upon an in-person return to the school, myself and many of my fellow students breathed a collective sigh of relief. Though I didn’t exactly fully agree with the decision, it was nice to see the talk about prioritizing student well-being post-pandemic actually being followed through on.

But as this change was made, something I was surprised to see not change along with it was the District Calendar. Just two years ago, first semester finals were moved from after winter break to before it. Consequently, this pushed the start date of the school year ahead. If semester exams are a thing of the past though, this renders the earlier start unnecessary and harmful.

Unless the length of the school year is to be altered, having first semester end before winter break means that the first two quarters will always be shorter than the second two. For students taking semester long courses, which are mostly electives, this means class time missed out on.

ETHS’s current start date has also not lined up with District 65’s ever since it was changed to accommodate moving semester exams. This puts unnecessary strain on families with children who attend schools in both districts, and moving ETHS’s start date back would eliminate this strain.

And if anything, moving back the start date would restore what was previously a vital part of summer break for many students. I remember how, back in 2019, the earlier start date prevented my family from going away to summer camp, as it ran parallel to the first week of school. 

In Chicago, August is just generally a drier and warmer month than June. It is easier and more fun to do classic summer activities during late August than early June because of this. It’s an awful feeling to be sitting in school on a 90-degree day in August while knowing that June had just been a slew of 60 degree ones.

Since first semester ended after winter break up until last school year, it wouldn’t be awkward to change the calendar again. In fact, with all the changes ETHS is making next year, it would be timely to do it as soon as possible. Cancelling finals has already done an enormous amount to curb student stress, and moving back the start date would do even more.