COLUMN: A Christmas Miracle (?): Finals Before and After Break

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The students here have witnessed many jarring changes to their Fenwick experience. Skorts, lanyards, the loss of our only affordable parking lot, the kjeffing ban, famous teachers retiring, and now this — finals before and after break.

It seems as though administration took our complaints about finals being after break and decided to address them by going halfsies with us. A Christmas miracle!… right? No, this winter break is going to be a “suffering sandwich,” with two separate sets of finals. That means double the fun and double the stress of studying an entire semester’s worth of material.

Usually the day before Christmas break entails watching movies and having twenty minute classes. However, that Friday is now a final exam day. Instead of singing carols and doing trivia, all classes will be taking their science and theology finals–except the sophomores. The Theology II final will not be on the Friday before break, but on the last day with math and computer science finals. Sorry sophs.

Since a lot teachers think their class is the most important, expect tests, projects, quizzes, and papers to be due the week before Christmas break. If you think that teachers would cut you some slack to study for science and theology, then are you even a Fenwick student? On top of relearning a whole semester of material, you will also be doing regular class work.

Usually, we have all of Christmas break to study (but no one ever does). Students use that precious weekend before finals start to cram, but with two finals being on the Friday before a big break, we no longer have those few days to pray that we don’t fail. That Friday is also the last day before freedom from school for two weeks.

I’m afraid that the mentality that many students might have will be to just get the tests over with so that they can leave the school. This will affect the scores that the students will get, because they might not be completely focused on the final and their attention will be directed to the two weeks we have off.

The topic of finals is a problem that affects the school as a whole. This is the reason I decided to reach out to see what other students thought. According to a poll made for this issue, 61.9% of students do not like the change. Surprisingly, 38.1% of students did like the split finals. Ariana Grande says, “thank u, next.” in her new song, which sums up the attitudes that many students have on this issue. Since putting this topic on the table stirred up some emotions for students on both sides, a few decided to speak up and share what they thought.

On the side of not liking the change, junior Izzy Bucolo, a frequent flyer on the Diversions page, expressed her dislike toward the new policy. “I hate it. It just stresses students out more. They made the schedule so students wouldn’t be stressed, but I think it’s doing the opposite,” she said.

It is obvious that finals is a tension-filled, coffee-chugging, and tear-inducing time, but making students go through this stress before and after break does not make sense.

Senior Nathan Krippner said, “Why would you separate them like that? Make up your minds and keep them all together.” A new policy is difficult to adjust to, just like the lanyards, and it is obvious that a large quantity of students will not like the change.

While many express their dislike on the subject, several students have voiced their opinions in favor of the change. On the other hand, junior Imogen O’Reilly says, “It lets me enjoy my break more; I can actually relax instead of studying and stressing for all of my finals for 90% of my time off.”

Senior Mira Burens says, “It breaks up the week. Plus, getting two finals out of the way early gives more time to study for the remaining tests.” It is nice to see an optimistic view while debating finals, and pointing out the good in a different situation will help other students cope with the new schedule.

With a more confusing perspective on this issue, Senior Michelle Saganich said, “I think that, uhm, can I say: no comment, I don’t know, I don’t care. Actually, can I say that it’s nice that they’re not all at once so I can study before and after break. Uhm, but it also sucks because it’s not all over at once. It’s a love-hate relationship.” As you can see, some students are under so much pressure right now that forming a coherent answer is just not possible.

Fenwick students juggle so much on their plates: sports teams, clubs, AP classes, honors classes, friends, and college apps. However, along with all that, this time of the year brings the dreaded finals. Seniors like Michelle are not coping well with the new change.

For the past three years at Fenwick, students have dealt with and gotten used to the finals after break. However, at the inconvenience of the seniors (and the other classes besides the freshmen), Fenwick is trying this new policy and bringing tension to the halls as a result.

The stress of finals not only affects students, but also teachers. Coming up with a cumulative test is difficult enough, but moving the deadline of that test to several weeks before it usually happens can greatly affect how much sympathy teachers will have this year. Most science and theology courses have been condensed to wrap up before Christmas which caused many teachers to alter a curriculum that has been used for years.

Good luck with stressed teachers who don’t want to change their class. Review days will be cut in order to fit in everything that will actually appear on the final, and students lose Christmas break to study. A time crunch at this scale affects not only the quality of performance on the final, but the quality of life throughout the weeks before, during, and after finals.

It is obvious that students and teachers are split on this issue (just like our finals), with more leaning towards not liking it. However, regardless of our opinion, the schedule will not change. It is in the student body’s best interest to just grind through the pain of this inconvenience and hope for next year to be better.

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