Students and Staff Adjust to December Exams
First semester will extend two weeks into January after exams are over
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Beachwood’s winter break is scheduled to start on Dec. 23 this year, a week later than previous years.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis explained that the change was put into effect in order to maximize instructional time prior to the new midterm exam schedule that precedes winter break.
“With Christmas Eve and Christmas falling on a weekend [we were able] to have our students in school straight through Friday, Dec. 23, which is, roughly speaking, a week more school than in previous years’ first semesters.”
Additionally, at the high school, first semester exams have been moved from January to December.
Hardis says students, parents, and staff members he has spoken to seem to support earlier midterms.
“A lot of parents would really like final exams to be before the break,” he said. “…It allows students to feel they have built up, kind of to this crescendo of intensity academically, and then have a true vacation.”
“Some teachers would also appreciate having the break, with that kind of down time to grade exams,” Hardis said.
In an email, English teacher Casey Matthews explained some possible advantages of scheduling exams before break.
“On the one hand, it is great for the students to be able to actually enjoy winter break without having upcoming midterms hanging like an albatross around their necks,” she wrote.
Matthews also identified potential disadvantages.
“Teachers who teach semester classes counted on those final two weeks to make sure all of their curriculum was covered,” she wrote.
Matthews added that changing the schedule for winter break will cut into curriculum time, especially if they are also trying to cut back on summer assignments.
“I think many teachers are also cognizant of [the workload students have] from summer assignments, so to limit summer assignments and then take weeks off instructional time of the end of the semester is definitely worrisome for many,” she wrote.
Hardis went on to note that a potential advantage of starting winter break one week later would be the extra time available to study for midterm exams.
“Now some would say [the original schedule] actually…gives [students] a lot of time to study, so I get there are pluses and minuses to midterms preceding winter break,” Hardis said.
Freshman Priyanka Shrestha appreciates that she will have more free time during winter break, but she has mixed feelings.
“It’s good we have [midterms] before break so that we’re free over break – we don’t have to study, but then I also feel like if we had them after break we’d have more time to study,” she said.
Senior Ankita Prasad supports the change.
“I’m glad [midterms are] before break, honestly,” she said. “I hated the headache of having to study over break. [Now it’s] kind of hard, but…I get to enjoy my break…I can spend time with my family without having to stress about [midterms].”
Sophomore Jin Liang is not happy about the schedule change.
“I’d rather take midterms after break because I usually study during winter break…[the old schedule] would just mean more time studying, so having [midterms] before break means I have to cram [studying] everything before break,” Liang said.
Hardis believes that most parents and students support the schedule change and the midterms before break.
“I’m sure you will find dissenting voices if you ask around enough people, [but] a lot of parents would prefer that midterm exams take place before the break,” Hardis said.
In addition to earlier midterms, the second quarter will extend two weeks into January after exams are over.
Social studies teacher Greg Deegan does not support the new schedule.
“Honestly it interrupted a unit, so we have to cut a unit we typically would have finished first semester,” he said.
Freshman Amanda Leizman noted that the schedule seems unusual, but ultimately does not mind it.
“I’m okay with it, personally…[but] it seems a little weird, maybe they should move winter break back so we can start with the next semester afterwards,” Freshman Amanda Leizman said.
Freshman Priyanka Shrestha also does not mind the extended quarter.
“It’s good that you have a cushion after break,” Shrestha said. “But I would like if [the semester] ended before break.”
“But I don’t mind it too much,” she added.