Every year since the beginning of our education, students have been given the gift of seasonal breaks. When the year begins to drag on and you start to feel like your stuck in an endless look off gallery walks, essays, and equations, you can relax knowing that Easter is almost here and you’ll be headed off to the beach in no time. The normal number of days per year that we get for breaks is around twenty. Except for last year where instead of ten days we got four. Not to mention how two of those days included regular weekend days. This year we’re set up with the same number of days to our break, but as an added bonus we have been backed into a snow day corner that ended with us leaking days off of our summer as well. Now, with the school having taken many additional snow days off than being forced to take days off our summer and also taken away the majority of our spring break, the student body has become restless.
The result that the students have seen from this has been the additional days added to our summer that have allowed us to start after labor day. However, while the new addition to summer has been welcomed by students and parents with open arms, there has been an outcry regarding the sacrifice it took to give us these days. The breaks were given have always come in ideal times like during midterms or in the craze before Finals where students need to cram in study sessions.
The best way to think about it is by thinking of the students as a herd of cars all racing across a highway. Every student has a certain level of fuel that allows them to power through the school year, and work efficiently to maintain the balance between their lives, school, and their health. However, eventually that fuel will run out, and there will be nothing left to push the students through the last stretch of the highway. This is where the breaks come in handy, like a pit stop. Allowing the students to refuel and return to school with new energy to power through the last quarter of the year.
Student Rick Wallace, a junior at Towson high, had this to say: “If students found themselves burnt out last year, as the saying goes, history repeats itself. Spring break is the perfect time as its right between winter break and summer. It’s meant to take off the stress of the upcoming SATS and finals, so for it to essentially be nonexistent can potentially create fatigue and mental struggles for many students.”
This may be brushed off by merely thinking that the students will only have two months left, then they can bath in the sun all they want. But this argument ignores the benefits a break in spring can give to juniors. Spring break has many uses outside of tanning on a beach in Florida. The week-long break works well for a college visiting schedule. Because of this losing spring break has hit many juniors hard, given that in the past they have been able to use that time to visit schools. The school itself only allows junior three excused absences to attend colleges. Let’s look at some opinions given by this year’s Junior class.
Student Zoe Johnson had this to say: “It’s inconsiderate to juniors! They should bring it back because it’s already difficult enough as it is to visit colleges what with having only three excused absences and summer having no students on campus. Summer is also when we are supposed to start applying, not visiting. I also think that it made us more tired especially as juniors because we have the SATs to worry about on top of it all. Focusing on everything at once is difficult. We need time to recharge after three chaotic quarters.”
Student Erin Sheridan shared a similar sentiment on the topic. “I think it has a negative effect on students. Spring break is an opportunity to visit college campuses and get an understanding of what kind of school they want to go to. By taking away spring break, students either miss valuable class time to visit campuses or have to wait until the summer, giving them even less time to start considering important decisions they will have to make during the senior year. In addition, now is the time of the year in which juniors are taking the SAT and beginning to prepare for AP exams. We feel burnt out! Shortening spring break takes away their opportunity to relax and spend time with friends.”
Many students seemed to share the same sentiment that Zoe and Erin did, and many were willing to offer possible solutions for the school to consider. We know that we are not fully informed one every situation, but it feels like there should be other options that have been overlooked or ignored. In any case, as students of this school, we would like to help by offering our suggestions.
When I opened up the floor to these students, they were happy to help share suggestions. Student Erin Sheridan continued by saying, “Although the school doesn’t have power over days off and school start time, they can still implement strategies to balance out these effects. Teachers can do things to take the pressure off of students, allowing them to balance studying, homework, and the extracurriculars. Teachers can only assign homework when necessary. Also, our school can offer time during the week where they allow students to study, ask for help, and catch up on school work.”
Student, Rick Wallace had said, “As a way to balance out the issue, the easiest solution would be to shorten summer break. The summer break was extended in the past few years which was one of the causes for the shortened break, so it makes sense to readjust. Another would be to take a mix of days from winter and summer break to try and even them out.”
Student Keanan Hula shared an interest in this idea and said, “I think that a potential solution would be to start school earlier in the year or end it later in the year so that kids could have a better holiday.”
Other suggestions were simple– taking snow days off only on days where it is necessary to avoid losing days on our summer. We can see why the issue with spring break could be a time-consuming project given its impact on the school days and its ripple effect to the number of the summer days we have. However, the issue still needs to be addressed for the sake of the Towson Students.