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Life at East: This is the end ... of the semester!

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

By the time you’ll be reading this, I will be taking a really long Scantron test, having a pre-final freak-out or will be frantically refreshing the page of our online grading system. ‘Tis the season for high school finals, at least in St. Charles.

I know that many schools in the area take their first semester final exams before they leave for winter break, giving teachers time to grade and students time to properly relax. While many kids my age got to spend time with friends and family (or, even better, sleep), I had to spend my time studying, to stay sharp on everything from the previous 16 weeks of every class. I knew time wouldn’t afford the luxury of reviewing when I returned to school.

Six school days is an awfully short amount of time between returning to school and starting final exams. You can ask anyone – teachers, students and even some administrators – and they will all agree. We all anticipated the hurt of starting school again and fought it by mentally preparing ourselves well in advance.

Then the cold days came. District 303 closed all schools Monday and Tuesday of last week because of the dangerous cold. It wouldn’t have been safe to go to school, and it was nice to have some extra time off. But when we all returned to school on Wednesday, I was shocked to learn the district wasn’t planning on altering the finals schedule. The extra snow days were tacked onto second semester, changing its finals schedule. Why couldn’t they split the extra days between the two? The already short amount of prep time was now cut down by a third.

My math teacher was the only one who attempted to lengthen the time – she emailed us all the homework we would’ve been given the first two days, so we could all at least try to stay on track. Yes, this is a series of unfortunate events that no one could’ve planned, but shouldn’t vacation be more like vacation, too?

Before all of this, rumors were floating around that the district was moving toward pushing finals to before winter break, which would also allow seniors to complete finals with the underclassmen before their Memorial Day graduation. This plan makes a lot more sense logistically, and I hope it comes into fruition.

There are seemingly some hurdles to jump before this can happen. There is concern about starting early in schools without air conditioning. A few weeks difference can mean drastic changes in temperature, making the environment of those schools uncomfortable and unsuitable for learning. It’s been reported lately that the district has a plan to try and install air conditioning in schools without it. When this goal is met, they should think seriously about changing the school year calendar.

No matter how much I wish and hope, my finals will arrive as scheduled. Please wish the high-schoolers in your life luck with their finals. After moving around 100 mph for the last week, we will all appreciate the four-day weekend as a well-deserved break.

• Brigid Ackerman is a senior at St. Charles East High School. She enjoys playing the trumpet, eating bread and writing this column. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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