March of the Living dates conflict with AP testing schedule, Prom

The 2016 March of the Living trip to Poland and Israel, taking place from May 1 to May 15, will conflict with all AP exams as well as the prom.

Students will be allowed to make up their exams during the AP make-up period during the following week after APs.

They will also have to come home two days early if they want to attend the prom on May 14.

“Every year, the College Board offers a makeup date for AP exams,” Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas said. “Those makeup exams are offered at Harvard-Westlake and we provide proctors. This year will be no different.”

The AP make-up period is one day long unless students need to make up four or more exams, in which case students can take exams over two days, the College Board said.

This means that students who go on the March of the Living must take all of their exams in one or two days almost immediately after they return from Israel.

“This doesn’t seem right to me,” English teacher Jeff Kwitny said. “It’s not fair.”

Of 225 students surveyed, 62, or 27.68 percent said that they plan to go on the March of the Living as a senior, and the results were almost exactly the same when students considered the fact that they would have to make up all of their APs in one or two days.

“The situation is really unfortunate,” Katie Kreshek ’16 said. “[The] March of the Living is such an important trip, and this year some kids will be discouraged from going because of the prom and AP conflicts. Having to cram for the AP exams is unfair even with the extension because this trip is not an excuse to party, but in fact a tour of the deadliest concentration camps responsible for the senseless killing of the Jewish people. It doesn’t affect my decision because I feel so strongly about going, but I know it will undoubtedly affect some people’s decisions.”

The March of the Living will also interfere with the prom, and students who plan to attend the trip have been working with Prefect Council to try to find a solution.

Dora Schoenberg ’16 has been working with her parents and Monise Neumann, the Harvard-Westlake representative for March of the Living, to try to find a solution to the conflicts.

“I could not choose between March of the Living, an acclaimed, life-changing experience, and my senior prom, one of the last times our entire grade will be together at Harvard-Westlake,” Schoenberg said. “Prefect Council planned and booked prom last May on the weekend they usually have it. No one could have foreseen that it would conflict with APs and the always-changing [Hebrew] lunar calendar.”

The prom is unlikely to be rescheduled because of how packed the school calendar is.

“Prom, because of the size of our school, has to be scheduled a year in advance,” Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo said. “We just scheduled prom at exactly the same time relative to this calendar that we have always scheduled it.”

Students who want to attend both events are allowed to leave Israel early.

“After we were made aware of the conflict, we talked about our possible options for moving forward,” Head Prefect Hunter Brookman ’16 said. “We completely empathized with everyone interested in participating on the trip. As far as rescheduling, the biggest issue is that we are locked in for the venue. There are also more limitations on venues than ever since many hotels we have worked with are no longer interested in high school events. Additionally, the issues with the calendar really limit our ability to change the date of the prom since there are school events nearly every other Saturday.”

The date of the March of the Living is determined by the date of the Jewish holiday Yom HaShoah, which translates from Hebrew to Holocaust Remembrance Day, as well as Israeli Independence Day, called Yom Ha’Atzmaut in Hebrew.

Yom HaShoah takes place May 5, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut will take place May 12.

Both holidays are a few weeks later than they were in 2015, when 23 Harvard-Westlake students missed the two weeks of school right before AP exams to go on the trip.

“Of all of the time during the year to leave, that was the worst two weeks for them to go,” Kwitny said. “When they came back, it suddenly hit me, and I felt angry about it. How could I teach these students and do a good job? It would have been a lot of time and a lot of work, and so I couldn’t do a good job. It was against my philosophy as a teacher because I didn’t feel like I was able to do a good job teaching them.”

However, Barzdukas said that the school did not have to change its stance on the March of the Living even though so many more students took part this year than in previous years.

“[The March of the Living] is not a school-planned or approved trip,” Barzdukas said. “[These] absences are unexcused, just as if a student were to go on a family trip or college visit during school. Students are responsible for making up the work they miss.”

Although students were able to coordinate with their teachers to make up work when they returned to school, some teachers were frustrated.

Because only seniors can go on the March of the Living and the trip takes place in the final weeks of school, some of the students on the trip did not see the need to make up their work when they returned.

“Some of my March of the Living students made up all of their missing work while others did not do so,” physics teacher Jesse Reiner said. “With one exception, my students who went on March of the Living did pretty terribly on both the unit test that they took in advance of the trip and on the in-class final exam that they took shortly after returning.  It wasn’t the only time that these particular students struggled with physics, but there is no question that they would have done better had they not missed so much class time.”

More students went on the March of the Living in April or plan to go in the future than in previous years because a Holocaust survivor visited class meetings to promote the trip.

“It’s popular every year and we like the program and the way it’s run, and it’s a really good program,” Cuseo said. “We’ll just have to be as accommodating as we can given the fact that it’s so much later this year. Let the record reflect that missing that much school, even for a second semester senior, can be very difficult.”

 

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