By Ivey McDaniel
The NEISD board launched a new traditional calendar for the 2011-2012 school year. Among these changes are a slightly shorter holiday break in December, a summer that starts on May 30, and, most importantly, a first semester that ends before the winter vacation. This means that high school students will take their finals before thirteen days off, instead of after.
“[A pro is] we won’t forget everything [from the first semester] during Christmas break,” junior Alyssa Ivey said.
The change was motivated by the numerous student complaints about studying over the holiday break, which, although intended to be relaxing, proved stressful for most attempting to cram before the exams. Test grades were also dropping due to the two weeks off, as students forgot previously learned material.
“This way the students will not be off guard when they come home from Christmas and they’ll be more prepared. They’ll still be in the swing of things,” freshman Hannah Witte said.
However, the new calendar does have it’s drawbacks.
“[Students] won’t get a long break to study and the time period for the first semester is shortened,” Witte said.
The shorter semester- 80 days instead of the usual 88-, will be a crunch for teachers too, as they have strict lesson plans to stick to.
“Well, we pretty much have to move at a faster pace to cover the district’s expectations. With some of the pacing, we might not do most of the projects I want to, and they’ll become take home assignments,” French teacher Karyn Hudson said.
Another concern is the stress that accompanies the break. Taking extra time to study on top of holiday preparations could add worry to the break.
“It could be even more stressful before Christmas, like buying presents for friends and family,” Ivey said.
However, the changes were meant to benefit both the faculty and students. When the board agreed on the new calendar, the pros outweighed the cons.
“A major benefit is you’re finished when you go on break. We start fresh and we don’t have to review materials. It’s going to cause [teachers] to think about what material is important. It puts us in good stance during the spring so we don’t lose testing days,” Hudson said.
Freshmen find it hard to empathize with some of the upperclassmen, since this will be their first year taking semester exams in high school.
“I feel lucky that freshmen get to start this change. I would’ve been really upset if I had to take finals afterward,” Witte said.