The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

End the semester before winter break

Illustration by Eva Park

The first weeks back from winter break are filled with anxious chatter as students gather in the library and teacher offices, struggling to relearn material from before the break. The end of the first semester brings a heightened level of stress as students grapple with the pressure to review, memorize and prepare for an overwhelming series of exams that complete the semester. But, by ending the first semester before the start of winter break, students will be more familiar with the recently taught material and perform better on their exams before they can fully embrace a relaxing winter break.

Ending the semester before breaks would allow students to retain the material better for assessments. Cumulative assignments take a lot of time and effort to prepare for, even when the information is fresh, so scheduling these exams after winter break only puts students in a position where they would have to work much harder for longer periods. Scheduling tests earlier ensures better recall and understanding of the material being tested. The school emphasizes strong student performance and this change would only increase student success.

Shifting the end of first semester will be particularly helpful to seniors who have to submit their semester grades to colleges. Oftentimes, their grades are dependent on the last few tests that lead up to the end of the semester. By giving seniors the opportunity to better retain information, they will not only have a more manageable workload, but they can also perform better. The benefits of this change extend to college applications — it will alleviate the stress seniors face of having to juggle the dual demands of college applications and midterms. Seniors are constantly stressing over their college applications during winter break, so being able to complete all of their exams beforehand will allow them to fully focus on writing their college supplemental essays instead.

Upcoming midterm exams and assessments also put stress on the student body over the break, hindering their ability to rest and impeding on time that could be spent with friends and relatives. Even if a student is not preparing for a test, the looming anxiety can detract from these memorable times. Changing the semester schedule would put students’ mental health at the forefront, providing them with a chance to recharge over the break, prepare for the upcoming semester and guard against burnout.

This change would not be unique to our school. In fact, it has been adopted at other schools in the area. For example, schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) end first semester before letting students out on break. Our school is an outlier in the community, and it’s time we make a decision that best supports student life.

The school is tough as it is, and there is no need to make students experiences more difficult. It is time for the school to recognize the advantages of this adjustment and make a positive change that benefits the entire student population.

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Sabrina Hamideh, Assistant Opinion Editor

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    AHDFeb 4, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    Only at Harvard-Westlake would skiing be the illustration of winter break. Sigh