One of the most pressing but least talked-about issues in MCPS is the unethical timing and length of winter break.
This year, this issue found a temporary solution in Jonas, the blizzard that caused MCPS to cancel school for eight consecutive school days. “Winter Break 2.0” produced excellent results for students across the county, in terms of productiveness and relaxation. Let us do it again.
MCPS should schedule an additional one-week holiday following midterm exams, preceding the start of the second semester, every year.
The original winter/holiday break often proves disappointing: the stress of the impending midterm exams shadows the entire week, and makes it difficult to truly relax. There is no such problem in an additional winter break after exam week.
This post-exam break provides busy students with a chance to pursue other interests, and tackle their long lists of procrastinated tasks. Without this past week off from school, I may never have gotten a chance to finish those for-fun novels I began over winter break, or to flip through my SAT prep books, or to apply for that summer job, or to visit DC’s treasured Wonder exhibit at the Renwick museum…the list goes on.
More importantly, the break acquaints stressed-out MCPS students with a foreign concept: rest. Students can forget about tests, quizzes, Quests, essays, and all that causes stress, and just take a deep breath, and rest. “The timing is perfect because we haven’t started second semester yet and we just finished exams,” B-CC junior Julia Chertkof explains. “It is really the only time I had/will have absolutely no work this year.”
In introducing Winter Break 2.0 as an annual occasion, MCPS faces two options: to tack one week onto the beginning of the school year, or to do with five-fewer school days per year.
If MCPS were to add one additional week to the beginning of the school year, AP and IB students would benefit from the extra time to prepare for their early exams. The problem is not solely the number of school days, but the lack of breaks throughout.
To fully solve the problem, MCPS could cancel five days of school, after amending the state requirement of 180 school days. Though lengthy, this process promises favorable results. Most nearby private schools have longer summer, winter, and spring vacations than public schools, yet boast impressive records in terms of test scores and pursuit of higher education. As the Council of American Private Education reported, on average, private school students scored higher than public school students on the SAT. Mary Pelson, a junior at the DC private school, National Cathedral School, familiar with the rewards of longer vacations, affirms that “two-week holiday breaks are invaluable for busy students.”
Pelson explains: “With a two-week break, students return to school refreshed and ready to learn, and are ultimately more attentive and productive.”
Article by MoCo Student Opinions writer Zoe Nuechterlein of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School