Our Editorial: Caught between a vacation and a hard place

Our Editorial: Caught between a vacation and a hard place

By The Editorial Board

As high school students, we already have to deal with the pressure of homework, rigorous classes, hours of standardized testing and completing college applications. The only thing that keeps us trekking through month after month of the same schedule and heavy workloads is the promise of an approaching break.

Breaks give us much needed rest and relaxation and endurance to continue through the year. Without them, the days seem to merge into one long, indecipherable stretch of school, homework and sleep. This is why it is crucial to us that we keep our current breaks intact.

As the number of state-mandated school days is increased by five, the possibility of losing midwinter break is looking more like a reality. This five-day respite comes at a crucial time of the year. Students need the time to unwind after stressful midterm testing and the end of the third quarter. It gives us the chance to catch up on sleep and maybe even get away from the bleak Michigan winter weather.

We feel we speak for the student body when we say it’s not only something we don’t want, but it’s something that could be detrimental to our mental state as well. The Michigan Department of Education is adding time to the school year, and we’re left wondering why.

Do these extra five days really make a difference? We question if that extra week is really enough time to make a noticeable difference in our academic achievement. Five days isn’t long enough to teach another unit. It gives students a few more hours in each class to review material, but not enough to outweigh time we already have to do that at home.

By forcing the extra five days in place of a midwinter break, the Grosse Pointe Board of Education is disappointing the students who have come to expect a vacation in February and creating a divide between them. These days have to be added somewhere, and whatever route the School Board chooses to take will be met with opposition from unamused students, putting the Board between a rock and a hard place.

Especially with School Board elections next month, the new members on the Board will start off their terms on a negative note. It is unfair to students to suddenly take away a break, and it is also unfair to ask a newly instated Board to force this upon them.

With that being said, the Editorial Board would like to propose alternative plans to removing midwinter break for the Grosse Pointe School Board to consider. Although removing midwinter break is an easy fix, we believe that it isn’t the best option for the school system.

We should be looking at filling the days in other ways throughout the year. A couple of days could be tacked on to the end of the year or a couple of minutes could be added to each class. Even shortening late start Mondays, or ditching them altogether would be less noticeable than taking away an entire break and less likely to cause distress among students.

The extra five days is an unnecessary decree, and for more reasons than one. We aren’t just looking at it from a student perspective. Teachers use that time to grade. Parents plan vacations while college students are still in school. The Board of Education has a hard enough time making the current calendar work. The community expects a break. However unnecessary these days are, they are required, and the option that causes the least disruption would not be to take away midwinter break.