By Zach Bergevin,
After last year’s finals, senior Teddy Knox sat on his couch in front of the fireplace. He enjoyed his winter break with a hot cup of tea and a candy cane, and waited for the joy of Christmas to arrive. Knox had finished his tests and could relax stress-free for two weeks.
In recent years, the semester schedule at Davis High has been altered so that first semester ends before winter break and second semester is much lengthier. According to librarian Bruce Cummings, this change was made in order to accommodate students’ desires to have a true break, instead of studying.
There are various upsides and flaws in the semester system, according to Cummings. A survey administered to DHS parents and students showed that the main reason that the new schedule was popular among students was that students no longer had to worry about finals over break.
“Winter break is meant to be a time to relax and spend time with family and friends. It should not be focused on preparing for examinations because then it is no longer a break,” Knox said.
Knox thinks that having the semester end before winter break makes it easier to focus and be successful on the finals as well.
“A critical problem with finals after break would be that students will forget the material they have mastered over break, and perform poorly on the exams because of it,” Knox said.
Although the upside of having a real vacation is a valid reason to have uneven semesters, Cummings thinks there are some negative repercussions. The current calendar means teachers have to cram more material into less time during the first semester.
Another issue that plagues a select group of students at DHS is that semester-long classes are difficult to teach equally. For the first semester, the material students have to learn is difficult to fit in, but during the second semester, it stretches longer than teachers need.
“It is a challenge because the uneven lengths of the semesters affect my government class, and I have less time to learn the material before the class is over,” Knox said.
Students that play winter sports also face the extra challenge of studying for their final exams during the season when the semester ends early.
“The uneven semesters will definitely be an obstacle to overcome with basketball taking up a lot of my time during finals period,” sophomore Quinn Vaewsorn said.
However, Cummings believes there is a viable solution to the struggle for time to study before the semester ends.
“The ideal schedule in the coming years would be to have the semesters even, but the first one to still end before winter break. In order to make this change, DHS would start earlier in August and end earlier in June,” Cummings said.
More schools have taken this approach; according to a survey by the Academic Center for Public Education, more than 75 percent of schools have moved their start time to earlier in the year, allowing a balanced semester system that satisfies the desire of students to have finals before winter break.