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Phelan: Not much of a break with finals lurking

Published: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

Once again, final exams are coming up. A time of cramming, worrying and complete chaos for unprepared students is near. Fortunately, these will be my last final exams of high school, and I’m thrilled. But for those non-seniors out there, I do feel bad. I’ve always thought that first semester finals were worse than second semester.

See, the unfortunate thing about first semester finals is that they occur two weeks after a two-week break. In the view of the school, this gives us two weeks to study while celebrating the holidays. But in the mind of the average student, this is a fortnight of forgetting everything.

I like winter break because it’s just that – a break from school work. Being able to take two weeks off to calm down, recharge and spend quality time with my family are things that I cherish. My teachers need time off, too, and on the Friday before we leave, the atmosphere in the school is so excited that you can’t help but smile.

My problem comes with the fact that final exams take place after two weeks of supposed relaxation. Either students take the break like they’re supposed to and forget much of what they’ve learned so they likely do poorly on the final, or they spend the entire time studying and don’t have a chance to enjoy the holidays.

How could we combat this problem? It’s easy. Simply move our exams to before winter break, like they are in some other districts and in college. My sister was home from the University of Iowa for Christmas, and she didn’t need to study or stress like I did.

Apparently, the problem with this is that the school year would have to start earlier in the summer. But if students were let out of school earlier in May, I truly don’t think they would mind. A full semester before and after the holidays would be a considerably smarter schedule, regardless of any small issues with summer vacation.

As a senior, I had the opportunity to pick easier classes this year, and my finals shouldn’t be too difficult. But I’m still studying hard, and I can remember the last few years of truly tough classes and crying over finals review packets. I’m excited for college next year, and I wish that my school could be better preparing me for collegiate life by having a similar schedule. What I know is that I’m still making sure I’m prepared, and that I hope all my fellow students do their best.

Good luck.

• Courtney Phelan is a senior at Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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