Post-break stretch is the ultimate trial

There is something different about walking into school the Monday after winter break.

Everything feels sort of new. A new year brings new resolutions and goals, and the holidays bring some people a new pair of shoes or jeans. Sometimes, it can bring a new sense of relaxation or refreshment. This isn’t obtainable for many students, though, because when you walk into school on Jan. 3, you won’t find any new classes. Instead, you’ll be faced with the task of completing eight more days of the first semester.

These eight days are not for the faint of heart. Exams are still optional in Rockwood this year, but many teachers opt to have them. It makes sense that instructors choose to have midterms to assess what students have learned and smoothly finish off their course, but saying “finals week” invokes an intense feeling of terror in any human being within earshot. Even for students who don’t have finals, this end stretch isn’t a walk in the park.

The school year is split into semesters to give students a breath of fresh air. A different semester comes with a new schedule, which opens up the opportunity to take new classes, meet new people, and experience different teaching styles. Some are opposed to switching classes at semester because they’ve already adjusted to their current schedule and become familiar with the structure. However, these students can talk to their counselors and request to stay in the same classes. Having new classes is essential to others. There are a multitude of reasons for this: maybe a teacher just isn’t clicking for someone, or they want to challenge themselves more and switch to an honors class. Even students who can’t always pinpoint a reason benefit from changing their schedule. Switching things up keeps people interested and motivated, and changing classes at semester can mix things up just enough to give students a second wind of energy for the last semester.

In a perfect world, the semester would end before winter break to allow students to start their new schedule after winter break. However, certain Missouri laws make it practically impossible for winter break to fall perfectly in the middle of the two semesters. This brings us back to the eight day predicament. The situation isn’t beneficial to anyone. Students have already mentally moved on to second semester, even if their schedule hasn’t. If they’re not cramming for exams and stressing about final projects, they have no reason to care about anything else. Educators who don’t use that week for exams are then tasked with the impossible: keeping bored teenagers somewhat interested in their course. The year long battle peaks in January and June, but the former is much less joyous for every party involved.