Do Vacations Give Students a Break?

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Will McDonald ’14
Staff Writer

Many students find vacations aren't much of a break from school work with the piles of homework teachers assign. | Graphic by Emily Golberg '12

For some students, a total break from school is a distant fantasy. This is because that even over the so-called breaks, the stress that results from the never ending supply of homework does not stop. Many go into the vacations with piles of homework. Other students often have to study for a quiz or test on the day before a break, even if that day is only a half-day.

According to Attendance Secretary Patty Mcquone, half-days such as the day before Thanksgiving, typically see about 30 to 40 percent of the student body being absent in order to get a head start on their vacations. Some even miss the entire week.

“I believe the students work very hard 100 percent of the time, so when a break comes around I think they earn it,” math teacher Karen Thomas said.

However, Thomas said that she would give a quiz on a half-day before a break “if that’s where the curriculum falls.”

Eric Mongirdas, who teaches Western, agreed with Thomas. “It comes down to the calendar. There’s so much to fit in each semester, and sometimes when there is an assembly and you miss class, it unfortunately causes you to just need the day,” Mongirdas said.

When asked about whether he supported some teachers’ decisions to give quizzes the day before vacations, Principal John Dodig said that if he was a teacher and knew that the majority of his class would be present, then he would feel fine giving a quiz. “Our time is too precious,” Dodig said.

Some teachers, such as English teacher Julia McNamee, try to avoid giving homework simply because they know what it feels like to be on vacation and have to worry about school assignments.

McNameesaid that because she has kids, she knows what annoyance homework over break can be, so she tries to make it easier for students. Although she may give homework over break, it would be in the form of a long-term assignment that does not require the students to do the work over the break.

When asked about giving whether she would give a quiz, McNamee said she doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of all the make-ups that absent students will have to take.

On the issue of giving homework, Dodig said, “I have no problem with it. We work hard as a school to make sure that homework acts as a continuation of what was learned in class. That’s why our students read and write better than students from other schools when they get to college.”

Despite the supposed benefits that Dodig views as a result of extensive homework, student’s showed overwhelming disapproval of this belief.

“I think it adds unnecessary stress to our lives and I feel that we need rest and leisure at some point in order to perform well throughout the year,” Spencer Manners ’14 said.

Understandably, no student wants to deal with the feeling that comes with having to pack a binder in their suitcase when they go on vacation. Also, some students express feelings that having a quiz the day before a break can make vacation seem far away.

The issue of homework and quizzes around the time of a vacation appears to divide teachers, but not students. Teachers who give quizzes have to face dealing with giving up to 40 percent of their students a make-up exam, while teachers who assign homework have to deal with the backlash that comes from irritated students who can look forward to having at leas part of their vacation set aside for schoolwork.

Do you have a lot of homework over break? Or a quiz or test on the half day before Thanksgiving? Tell us what you think in a comment below.

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