Frantic Finals

Having final exams after break causes more challenges.


Marci Townsend

English teacher Shannon Lesko works hard to finish grading her final essays.

For the most part, high school isn’t that bad. It’s especially way better than middle school. However, one major difference that makes high school not as fun is finals. They come twice a year, at the end of each semester, and every student dreads the thought of hours of studying and hopes of not failing. While the first round of finals used to be before Winter Break, this year they fell from Jan. 10-13. This makes finals harder and also makes no sense for several reasons including how several St. Louis schools are having finals before break, having a long break can make students forget information, students will have to study over break and countless individuals in our school are infected with COVID-19. 

First and foremost, there are several Missouri schools that still had finals before break despite the semi-recent law passed about school start times. In 2019, the Governor of Missouri Mike Parson signed a law that states that schools can’t start any earlier than 14 days before Labor Day. This is one reason that Parkway is used for having finals after break. However, the Rockwood School District started on the same day as Parkway, Aug. 23, and still managed to squeeze in finals before winter break. Rockwood is a district very similar to us, so if they can have finals before break why can’t we? If they can figure it out we can too. Other schools like Kirkwood and Bayless also had finals before break. Furthermore, Parkway, on several occasions, seems to like being the odd one out in making decisions. For example, having the day after Halloween off and having extra “Mental Health” days. Several other school districts chose to do these, including Pacific and Afton, but Parkway still forced us to have school. It just doesn’t make sense. Are we trying to prove that we’re better? Or do we just want to make students suffer?

Additionally, having finals after winter break is damaging because students will have gone a long time without being in school. For example, an article from the Salisbury Post states, “there is a risk of lowered performance if students do not keep their minds engaged and learning during a long break.” Most students probably aren’t going to want to study during winter break, so going so long without being in school and having the material they learned fresh in their minds, they’re going to do worse on the tests because they don’t remember as much. Why not have finals when the students are still learning? Another piece of evidence comes from an article from The 74 Million, quoting, “After missing out on just a few days of school, students start to suffer noticeable effects on their learning. Surveying the body of evidence from studies in Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia…the percentage of students passing math assessments falls by about one-third to one-half a percentage point for each day school is closed.” This again shows that each day students don’t go without learning, the information drains from their minds. So how are they going to remember everything they learned before break after two weeks? It’s just not realistic, especially after several studies have proven so. 

Adding on, winter break is supposed to be a time for spending time with family and friends. Why should students have to spend that time studying for school? Schools constantly tell us to “take a break, get enough sleep”  while throwing a lot of projects and homework on us. Also, having a break with no homework or studying stress can be beneficial to the brain. According to Cleveland Clinic, the article reads, Research has shown that taking breaks can improve your mood…and increase your ability to concentrate and pay attention…(when not taking a break) You might also be more likely to experience burnout and the health problems that go hand in hand with chronic stress.” This evidence reveals that taking a break without the stress of work can improve your health. If we’re constantly studying and worrying about how we’re going to perform on finals, that doesn’t actually give us a break and can put even more stress on our brains. If we do the finals before break, then we can go home and relax and let our brains rest. However, if we have finals after break, we’ll have to study and stress, and if we don’t study and let ourselves take a break then we’re going to slowly forget more and more. There’s no win win. Students deserve an actual break once in a while. 

Lastly, during finals we had 56 students—who were out with the Omicron variant. Several got COVID over break, meaning that during finals they were home. Some of the students got exempt from their finals, however several didn’t. They either had to take it virtually or take it the next week—the week of the new semester, meaning brand new classes. If you were a student wouldn’t it suck to have to go in after school or during lunch to take a final that you were forced to miss? Everybody else got two hours and early release days after taking their finals, but you have to deal with the weight of new classes as well as the old ones. If we had finals before break, then several of the students who had to miss finals because of COVID would have gotten to take finals in person and gotten the same privileges that the students in person got. But they didn’t, and now they have to deal with the consequences of something they couldn’t really control. 

All in all, having finals after break makes no sense. Students are going to lose the information they learned, they’re going to be stressed the whole break, there are countless schools that had finals before break and COVID-19 made it all tougher. Parkway needs to do better.