Finals Should Be Before Break

Brain Tan and Georgia Briskey

Imagine a world where finals came before Winter Break.  No stress over break, no trying desperately to recall what you learned from first semester in January, and a fresh start begins as you step through the classroom doors in January.  AP classes would have extra weeks to cover more material and there would be additional breaks in the school calendar.  Too good to be true, right?  Exactly.  That’s why it didn’t happen.  

Students return to school in January to pure stress as they have to learn new material and prepare for finals.  So, why can’t we have finals before break?  Winter Break should serve as an ideal cutoff for the semester.  

Former Acalanes Union High School School District Superintendent Jim Negri tried to change it three years ago.  The resolution was voted against because of scheduling conflicts among the Lamorinda community.

Passing a resolution like this would require consent from the governing board of the schools and districts.  All the schools in the district need to have the same schedule, so they all must agree to the alteration.  Besides AUHSD, the other local districts must also bury the hatchet and switch their calendars, so the Lamorinda community’s students operate on a similar schedule.  

Why do students in other districts need to operate on a similar schedule?  Some siblings go to different high schools, or have younger siblings in different grade schools.  There are four school districts in Lamorinda alone.  If Johnny started high school early, and OIS started two weeks later for his sister Mary, wouldn’t it be more difficult to fit those family vacations into that small window of overlapping holidays?  

This was the main reason why it was not passed– because having finals before break would mean starting school earlier, which would create conflicts with traditional family summer plans.  Families would have to adjust their summer trips according to the new start, and not everyone is so flexible in being able to choose when to take that vacation in Hawaii or finish your summer camp.

Additionally, summer swimmers’ participation in big meets would clash with the earlier start to school. The biggest meets, OMPA and County, take place towards the end of summer and having school start earlier would cause overlap with these meets. And how weird would it be to go to school in the morning and have to physically exhaust yourself in these big swim meets after a mentally exhausting day at school?

Having finals before break is the system that most colleges use and would better prepare high school students for at typical college schedule.

“I see my children come home from college after they’ve finished finals and they’re stress free. Having finals before break is a healthier system,” said Associate Principal Sharon Bartlett.  

Leaving school on the last day before break having finals behind you would be the best feeling in the world, but Miramonte students can only dream about it.  

“The amount of stress I experience during break is equivalent to having the pressure of a quarterback leading the game-winning drive in the Superbowl,” said junior Josh Dathe.

You know that awesome sense of relief you feel after your last final on the day before summer?  Just hold that thought and imagine feeling that freedom again in the winter.  You could actually have a real Winter Break, without any worries for finals.  You would not have to feel that awful sense of guilt of not studying or being able to remember how exactly you do the Quotient Rule while you shred the gnar in Alpine Meadows.

“It’s difficult for students to come back after virtual inactivity. I think it would give nice closure for students starting the semester after filled with food and holiday cheer,” said math teacher Brian Henderson.

Having finals after break gives us that awkward three weeks of school before the semester ends.  Dead week?  What’s the point?  It just seems impractical to have the semester end three weeks after break. So let’s fix the awkwardness and make finals before break.