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Orchestra Stress Days Allow Students to Better Manage School


By: Julia Rosier ’18 and Alex Reiner ’18

As the stress of schoolwork accumulates, orchestra teacher Adele Valovich, provides her students with an opportunity to relieve that stress during one orchestra period a semester. She allows her students to go to library if their school work piles up.

“I think that the kids who take Orchestra are the kids that are taking a really heavy academic load, most of them are taking more than three APs, all the honors classes,” Valovich said. “The work that I ask them to do entails a lot of work outside of school also and practicing and there’s only so many hours of the day.”

Valovich is part of the humanities club, therefore she believes that she should be humane and fair when providing her students with these stress days. Each of her students is granted one stress day per semester, but is not allowed to take their stress day two weeks before a major concert.

While many students are grateful for this day off, others do not necessarily utilize it. “I just don’t really find them useful [for myself] or need them,” Lauren Schmidt ’18 said. However, she does feel like they are necessary.
“It’s important to recognize that orchestra is a class, not just a free period. Many students in orchestra find that the only time they have to review or do homework one day is during school,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt has not taken a “stress day” since she first began playing in the orchestra, starting in Freshman year. This is unusual, since roughly three-quarters of orchestra students utilize this stress-relieving opportunity.

Valovich believes that this one day has a significant impact on her students, “I do [find them refreshed] if I see them at the end of the day, I’ll ask them how the test went and I think if I can do something to relieve that stress that they are feeling, then it’s a pretty good thing.”

Valovich, in exchange for these opportunities, asks her students to provide a valid reason as to why they will be missing class, ensuring they utilize their one day per semester well. There are exceptions to this rule. “The only days they can’t take it is two weeks before the concert when I’m stressed,” Valovich said jokingly. There are also days that she does not allow them to miss because she needs the whole group to cover a specific topic.

Scott Adler ’18 has not taken a stress day in Valovich’s class, however, he plans on taking one soon. “Junior year is stressful and it’s nice to have extra time to complete assignments,” Adler said.

While the orchestra students are surely grateful for this one day a semester, Schmidt does not feel as if it has to be implemented throughout all classes. “I don’t think all teachers really need this policy. Kids miss orchestra because it’s a class that they can miss without missing much material, unlike the majority of the classes at Staples,” Schmidt said.

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