It was not until the last couple of days of winter break that I realized that I would once again be in school, drifting in and out of classes and weaving through herds of people. The thought almost made me shed a tear – almost. The first day back is always the same as any other one of the 184 days of school: there are the kids who drag themselves out of their house only to miss the bus, the parents who drive their kids to school and shoo them out of their car with that don’t-you-dare-make-me-late-to-work look and the teachers who groan into their coffee cups as one of their students asks yet another insipid question.
If this were a typical high school movie, I would be in the middle of an extravagant romantic subplot and school would have been pushed to the back burner as I gallivanted to find my Prince Charming. Preferably, I would be Cher Horowitz from the movie Clueless when she realizes she’s in love with her stepbrother.
I should have known life wasn’t a high school movie when I never found my Prince Charming. The second sign should have probably come when I realized my life started revolving around a schedule of 10 hours of school related nonsense from Monday through Friday that the Hollywood industry seemingly forgot to prepare me for.
On the second-to-last day of break, I realized the workload I had been “optionally” assigned was still sitting in the corner of my room, untouched. (And by “optionally”, I’m talking about the packets of work that will be assigned as required work the moment I get back from break). This obviously could have all easily been solved if I had studiously spaced out all of my work throughout the break. Instead, I was digging into a mountain of review packets and SAT studying for the last two days. Of course, that is beside the point.
Holiday time (Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza or whatever celebration aligns with your religious affiliation) is a time to spend with family, friends and food. However, those dear moments come at a cost when you have seven exams just a week after Winter Break ends and you’re completely unprepared.
The chance of any student in MCPS actually having strategically utilized the 14 days of Winter Break to prepare for exams are about as slim as the list of reasons to like Iggy Azalea and her whitewashed appropriation of hip hop culture (a discussion for another time). Students everywhere are either off vacationing for the majority of their break or too busy catching up on the sleep they lost throughout the 1st semester.
Getting back into the flow of learning after 14 days of little to no intellectual stimulation is a challenge in itself. However, that week of reviewing before exams is crucial in a handful of classes and requires brainpower that a good breakfast just isn’t good enough to provide fully (hint: you need some common sense and an ability to absorb gallons of information in a short period of time).
In reality, Winter Break is not a free-flowing blast of time because you spend a majority of the time worrying about seven (maybe eight if you hate yourself) exams, applying for summer internships, studying for the SATs, looking through scholarships, etc. etc. And the list goes on.
In many schools in the South and West, exams are always given before break, so that once students go on break, the semester has officially ended. Realistically, this would be an easy solution to remove some of the school related stress of Winter Break. It would require school to start a week or two earlier, which would only help teachers, as it would give AP teachers more time to prepare their students for the AP exams in May.
But for now, we are coming back to a whirlwind of classwork, homework and review for a set of exams that we are dreading to take.
Maybe in the future high school life will be more like a Mean Girls movie. Maybe we could be more like Cady Heron and consciously fail a class we were fully capable of acing just to chase our Aaron Samuels. If only life was that easy and the repercussions didn’t threaten our chance of a successful future. But for now, the dreams that Tina Fey’s witty scripts create will be far-fetched hopes because high school really isn’t a movie – honestly, Tina Fey lied to us.
By the MoCo Student Staff Columnist Anja Shahu of Walter Johnson High School