The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

Final-ly Winter Break

Holding Finals after break has negative consequences on students
Junior Zachary Schade sits in front of his family christmas tree while studying for finals. Schade thought that having finals after winter break caused unnecessary stress which makes it harder to enjoy the holidays. “I think finals after break forces students to study instead of enjoying what should be time with their family [away] from school,” Schade said. “It places an unpleasant cloud over the holiday experience and doesn’t allow a break before the start of a new semester.”
Nicole Schade
Junior Zachary Schade sits in front of his family christmas tree while studying for finals. Schade thought that having finals after winter break caused unnecessary stress which makes it harder to enjoy the holidays. “I think finals after break forces students to study instead of enjoying what should be time with their family [away] from school,” Schade said. “It places an unpleasant cloud over the holiday experience and doesn’t allow a break before the start of a new semester.”

The doors of the school swing open and students pour out, sprinting to their respective cars and overjoyed about the beginning of break. After escaping the chaos of the parking lot, you finally pull into your driveway, flop on your couch and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s then that you remember that you have seven finals to study for over the winter break. 

Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, Missouri schools made the switch to start two weeks after Labor Day in efforts to promote Missouri tourism. What seemed like a simple switch to generate economic profits, quickly turned into a logistical nightmare as schools were forced to cope with the effects of this scheduling change. Within Parkway specifically, the district sought to create equity between the two semesters, which they believed to be especially important for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In doing so, finals were forced to assume their new position two weeks after winter break. 

Holding finals after winter break is harmful for students this solution harms students’ well-being, reduces retention rates and creates logistical issues. Student followers of Pathfinder’s instagram are in agreement. Out of 164 students polled, 89.6% said that they would rather have finals before winter break. Sophomore Joseph Cunningham feels like the delay of finals causes additional stress and creates negative emotions over the holiday break. 

“[Having finals] right after break implies that students should be studying over winter break when the meaning of break is supposed to provide students time to enjoy themselves and relax,” Cunningham said. “We can’t do that if we have to think about and prepare for finals. We can’t relax when finals are around the corner [because] it can potentially impact the trajectory of our futures.”

Parkway has made many new initiatives recently to improve the mental health and well-being of their students, but the reality is that the added stress of holding finals after winter break puts the well-being of students in jeopardy. It’s pretty much a given that any student would stress over a 90 minute test over an entire semester’s worth of material, not to mention that it is a major deciding factor in most students’ grades. However, when this stress is constant over the longest break of our school year, can we really call it that?

Sure students will have time away from school and classwork, but the stress of finals can be overwhelming. When you add in the teachers who decide to assign homework over the break a topic for a different editorial many students will end up spending more time worrying about their imminent tests than relaxing over the break. Parkway cannot advertise winter break as one of their mental health solutions when in reality it is anything but. 

“[Finals after break are] stressing everyone out. People have a negative mindset about it to begin with. Going in with a negative mindset is going to affect the outcome of their finals. [Additionally, we] are not going to enjoy [ourselves] as much if we are stressing about finals,” sophomore Chloe Kallaos said. “I think it’s just a lot of pressure to review everything over the course of three days or have to study for the break.”

Not only is this solution extremely detrimental for students’ well-being, it also has various negative consequences on students’ grades and retention rates. It always takes time to readjust to the routine after time away, but finals after winter break are a huge slap in the face during the readjustment period following the break. Though the week-long buffer is a nice thought, it isn’t enough to compensate for the negative effects the break has on students’ retention rates. 

“I want to say that [delayed finals] can improve grades, but with students celebrating holidays, and traveling to see family, not all students will be able to take the time to study for finals, so it would most likely have a negative effect,” Cunningham said. “Either way, it’s more productive to do finals before break, because students are still in the proper school mindset.” 

A study on the forgetting curve by psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found that without reinforcement and connections, 75% of information is forgotten after only six days. With our two week break, it is not a question that many students will quickly forget the new lessons shoved into the days leading up to break. This is without regard to the other material learned this semester. Having finals after winter break will decrease students’ retention rates and have negative consequences on their grades as a result. 

“Coming back from two weeks of doing nothing [school related], and then doing the absolute most, you’re going from zero to a hundred and I think that is a really tough extreme to go to,” Kallaos said. “It’s hard enough for me to review for a unit test, and now they are giving us just three days to review everything from the whole semester for every single class, it just seems unnecessarily difficult.”

This decision was made based on logistics, but the logistical outcomes of this shift result in even more issues. Instead of returning to a fresh semester after the break, students will attend two more weeks of their first semester courses. After this, they will have another break before beginning their second semester. These logistical inconsistencies are just plain confusing and moving finals to after winter break results in more problems than the one that the decision sought to solve. Cunningham points out some additional problems including the impact stress could have on students’ attitudes and how studying lessens time for winter break activities. 

“Like I said before, it adds stress to students’ lives. Everything people will be doing during break will have stress embedded into it. This could impact relationships because of negativity, and diminishes the moments of enjoyment,” Cunningham said.

When Missouri made the decision to negatively affect their students’ school year in favor of a couple weeks of profits from the tourism industry, they made their priorities crystal clear. The question now is will Parkway continue to do the same? Holding final exams after winter break has negative effects on students’ well-being, grades and schedules. Let’s return finals to their rightful place.

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Final-ly Winter Break