Finals In Review

Between December 19th and December 23rd, Fenwick students gathered at school to take their final exams. This was due to the decision to have finals before winter break rather than after. This schedule modification seems to have impacted the preparation for both students and teachers, and there were many opinions on this debatable subject, which has its pros and cons. The change of finals forced teachers to cram their lessons in before break so that all the material would be covered. Even in doing so, there seems to be a more positive response, rather than negative on the change. When asked his opinions on this situation, Mr. Zhao, the Mandarin teacher at Fenwick, replied, “Taking the exams before winter break is probably easier for the students taking language classes, as they tend to forget a lot after the break as many of them cannot find time during the vacation to study.” He highlights a great point of the problem of stressing out over break and not recalling the content learned that semester due to the long break. This new exam schedule eases out the pressures students usually endure during winter break. When interviewing Mr. Menich, a Fenwick Science teacher, he stated, “It makes the transition from first to second semester much clearer for students and teachers.” He also noted the very important previous point concerning forgetting material, saying, “Students don’t have two weeks off where they might forget content they learned before the final exam.”

When finals occurred after break, students could not enjoy the time off from school because there was a constant reminder of finals coming up when they return to school. Finals before break eliminated just that and ultimately, allowed the break to be a relaxing time for all. Mallory Turner, a senior taking all AP and honors classes, weighed in on this topic by pointing out, “With the old schedule, I liked that there was time to get caught up on everything during the break, including sleep!” But, she concludes, “I was able to fully enjoy the holiday, and spend a lot more focused time with family and friends.” Break is meant to have time off and not focus on preparing for extreme exams that distract students from the true meaning of the winter break. There are still advantages and disadvantages to the schedule change in when finals take place, and it’s important to note that the stress just doesn’t go away because they are now before break. Junior, Grace Kapsch, who has a schedule full of AP and honors classes affirms, “Having finals before break was definitely a lot more stressful, but I think the reward after was worth it.” She saw this from both points of view, saying it was still difficult, as finals are, but also acknowledged the light at the end due to completing finals sooner and finishing the semester off strong.

Input from underclassmen, specifically sophomores, was fascinating to hear, as they haven’t had that many finals in their high school journey. Erin Gunnell, a sophomore taking very rigorous classes, adds to the conversation by expressing, “Freshman year, my winter break was miserable because my teachers were cramming huge amounts of content before we went back for finals. It didn’t even feel like a true break because there were so many assignments hanging over my head.” She shares her exam experience and the pressure it adds knowing she is not the only one who encounters these situations.

Thus, finals altering from after break to before break impacts the students and teachers at Fenwick. Though not everyone may agree, there seems to be a mutual liking of this new schedule, which could lead to a permanent change. Overall, finals before winter break is a new change that the Fenwick community is still adjusting to.