Looking at the title of this article, you might be thinking, “What kind of question is that? Thanksgiving is a time where I get days off of school and get to sleep in. Winter break with Christmas gives me a week off of school.” And, you’re right. They have some benefits. But I want you to think about the time leading up to the holidays. What were you doing the two and a half days before Thanksgiving? Or the three-week period in between Thanksgiving and winter break? Are you relaxing? Spending time with family? If you’re anything like the kids at Chatham High School, you’re probably striving to keep that straight A report card. Students are forced to cram during the holidays. I know personally, during the week leading up to Thanksgiving (or two and a half days) I was taking and studying for five different tests. Five. Now, with my entire family home, how am I supposed to carve out any time for them? The simple answer is, you can’t.
The sophomore year is talked up to be the second hardest year in high school. But if junior year is only going to get worse, you can count the APUSH students out. With the Progressive Era test, the hardest test of your US History career, coming up the week before Thanksgiving, they are just about ready to drop out. Forget the kids who are missing some school to travel to see family; they are even farther behind. Lugging textbooks and notes onto a plane, weighing them down as they walk through the airport. Is this how it’s supposed to be? It should be the same thing as when adults leave their workplace, where they get to completely remove themselves. Many adults are known to turn off their work phones, ignore work emails, and shut down their work life once they leave. And they should. But why is this not the same expectation for students? Why are kids now always seen studying, spending their extra hours in the library, or holed up in their room for six hours a day?
The junior class does not have it any easier. Psych, Environmental Science, or Physics (the roller coaster project especially) all make the past few weeks super challenging. As a student, there’s no winning. Also, there’s pressure to think about college. That’s a crazy enough concept. Making the decision that determines how the rest of your life goes at age sixteen is slightly frightening. So, pile all that school work on top of looking at schools, deciding what kind of school works for you, etc. Most seniors are also still applying to schools. All in November and December. How does a student do that, and make time for their family, and for themselves? There’s no way to do that without getting minimal sleep. There just isn’t.
With all the love to our teachers at CHS, there’s got to be a change. This stress is already a breaking point during the normal school year, but right before the holidays, a time for family? It’s almost unnecessary. This dives deeper into a topic of the stress on kids, specifically here at Chatham with constant high expectations. Teachers are always saying that when they go home, it’s time for their family, time away from work. What about the students? Is that not what these breaks are for? Instead of going home and separating from school, students are forced to bring their schoolwork into their days off in order to stay on top of things, let alone exceed expectations.