Should We Reschedule Semester Finals?


Image by asi24 on Pixabay

As the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year draws to a close, Helena High School students are now faced with a new challenge: semester finals. As this dreaded time of the year grows closer and closer, I have found myself contemplating: why do we schedule our finals for after winter break, and not before? 


As a senior in high school, I like to believe that I am an expert in taking semester finals. However, this will be my first semester final since January of 2020 after semester testing was cancelled due to COVID-19. In fact, this will be the first semester finals for many Helena High School students. In a survey of 120 students, 48% reported that these finals will be the first that they have ever taken.  


It is no secret that semester finals season can be very stressful for students. For instance, about 73% of students who participated in the survey reported feeling stressed about their semester finals. Furthermore, only 22% of students who participated in the survey feel prepared for their finals. The number of stressed students is not surprising, yet nothing is done to help relieve some pressure from students during finals.  


Unfortunately, finals are inevitable in high school. However, there is a potential way to relieve the stress high schoolers are feeling: schedule semester finals for earlier in the year.  


It seems counterintuitive but think about it, if students were able to take their semester finals during the last few days of school leading up to semester finals, students would be free to enjoy a winter break with no studying, no homework, and no stress. Students would come back to school rested and prepared to jump straight into learning new material for semester two, rather than frantically trying to re-learn and remember what they were working on in school before the winter break.  


Not only would it greatly benefit the students, but it would also benefit the teachers. Teachers would not have to make review packets and lesson plans over their holiday break, and instead would get a glorious week of total relaxation and holiday cheer. 


Although this change seems flawless, there is a slight downside. Because the Helena Public School District is obligated to have the same number of school days each year, the school year would have to start three weeks earlier in order to have semester finals fall right before the winter break. However, the school year would also end three weeks earlier. The length of summer vacation would not be affected. This change would undoubtedly take time to get used to; however, the compromise of an earlier start to the school year for a completely stress-free winter break is well worth it. 


Moving semester finals would be the smartest way to keep students and staff happy over the long run of the school year. However, the Helena High School student body seems very divided over the issue. In our survey, 38% of students disagree, 36% of students agree, and 26% of students don’t have a strong preference either way. I believe students’ opinions may change after the semester finals take place and students realize the value of a completely homework-free winter break. Trust me, when everyone is feeling burnt out in the middle of the school year, the winter break is a luxury. So why not allow people the time to actually enjoy it?