Give us a day to breathe

Chronicle Staff

Even God had a day of rest.

Harvard-Westlake students have a workload that would make the authors of the Geneva Conventions cringe. We pull all-nighters, work throughout the weekend and regularly drink enough caffeine to kill a small goat.

In doing so, we often take our bodies to the breaking point. Our nerves are shot, our muscles weak and our immune systems would protest if only they had the strength.

When we sense that breaking point coming, we often take measures such as taking a day of rest during the week to make sure that we are well enough to function later. We choose to sacrifice a part to save the whole.

Unfortunately, any day taken off to ensure proper mental health is marked as an unresolved absence. We cannot take off a day to prevent illness; we must wait until the flu strikes before we can take a break.

That is, unless we lie. And that is the method many use to get their day of rest. Students call in sick, and parents, realizing their poor child’s need for sleep, gladly corroborate.

When we take days off, we’re not at home lounging around, munching on Cheetos and watching TV. We’re sleeping in, allowing our bodies to make up the sleep we’ve missed, and hitting the books, making sure that we make up the work we’ve missed. It’s certainly no vacation.

Students rarely just ditch school. We’re mature enough to recognize that missing school has significant consequences: missed lectures, missed quizzes and tests and missed time to meet with teachers.

But we also recognize that sometimes the benefits a day of rest may offer far outweigh the drawbacks.

We realize that coming to school on two hours of sleep cannot help in any way. It’s dangerous (driving down Coldwater on eight hours of sleep is hard enough), it’s a waste of time academically (you learn nothing in a class in which you’re nodding off in), and it’s a lost opportunity to make up badly-needed sleep. Furthermore, we only end up more tired the next day, and the next day, until our entire week is shot.

Being able to make a decision between work and well-being is a life lesson and essential skill. Unfortunately, there is little allowance here to learn this lesson. That is, unless one is willing to lie.

If students were allowed to take a certain number of days off school much like seniors already can for college visits to decompress and catch up on work, the number of students calling in sick would plummet, complaints about stress would be tempered and grades would likely even rise.

Beyond that, we would not be forced to lie about something that needs no dishonesty. To institutionalize something that is already occurring will do nothing more than decrease the number of students who feel that lying is their only option.

The rationale behind missing a day of school to rest is legitimate, so why isn’t the act itself?