On the first day of Christmas my teachers gave to me…


Slater Dixon

A number of different textbooks that students study from to prepare for finals.

Madeleine Kemper, Staff Writer

Remember that glorious day in December when the final bell rings and it’s officially winter break? That feeling of not having anything to do for almost two whole weeks and knowing that you can go home and watch as many movies as you want? I certainly remember that feeling from about four years ago. As I’ve gotten older, semester tests seem to be a heavy weight that rests on my shoulders, even more so now that they have been scheduled immediately following break. This change leaves students feeling as if they don’t get much of a break at all considering they have to prepare for exams over the holidays.

In the spring of 2015, the Sioux Falls School Board took a vote to change the school start date to after Labor Day, consequently moving the last day of school to early June. These changes were set to occur for three years, and at the end of this period the board took a new vote. Due to a lot of parent resistance, the first day of school was moved back to late August. However, those who gave feedback in making this change did so because they thought semester tests would fall before winter break. Two years later, this is still not the case, as students now only have 4 days to review for semester finals after they return from break.

The change back to the pre-Labor Day start clearly wasn’t a complete reset as the school schedule shifted, but rather to dates that were meant as a compromise to satisfy both sides of the argument. Because of this, grades kindergarten through eighth may not even notice the changes, however, high school students will be at the greatest disadvantage. Personally, I can say with 100 percent certainty that practicing for my Spanish speaking test over last year’s holiday break ruined some of the yuletide cheer. For many, it feels like we are constantly running around and around again in a hamster wheel, never really able to catch our breaths. Taking semester tests before the break would allow students to press the reset button and relax before starting up the new semester in January. 

In addition to shortening the break in December, the Presidents Day break that used to be six days long in February is now only four days long. Although we are in school for a set amount of days each year, it does feel much longer when the breaks we’ve relied on for so long to get us through the year keep getting cut. These changes regarding the school calendar affect high school students the most. Considering we’re the ones actually taking the tests, we should be able to play a larger role in the decision making of the school schedule.