Opinion: Finals before Winter Break benefits students and staff

CHS finals week is a continuously looming presence in the minds of students and staff as the school year progresses. First-semester finals week is particularly contentious due to its timing, which takes place after Winter Break. While both sides have substantial arguments, scheduling finals prior to Winter Break is the better option for CHS.

The timing of finals for any school depends on the school district. LAUSD, for example, has finals before Winter Break and thus can start the second semester right when students return from their three-week vacation. On the other hand, LVUSD has finals two and a half weeks after the return from Winter Break.

The LAUSD finals schedule allows students to fully relax and enjoy the break. For LVUSD students, however, the dread of finals upon their return lingers throughout the holidays.

By holding finals after break, LVUSD risks students forgetting the content they spent months learning. Consequently, many students favor the LAUSD approach for its reasonability and simplicity. 

“I feel like during break, we forget everything,” said senior Dana Lopez. “Break is our time to refresh and have a break and instead […] we are studying for our finals.”

The main purpose of Winter Break is to allow students and staff designated time to relax. Instead, students often fixate on their upcoming assessments. Teachers also return to a busy finals schedule and loads of stressful grading in the last few weeks of the semester. 

“Students lose material when they go for Winter Break, and then we have to put the material back in their heads, all while getting ready to do an assessment [for] the whole semester,” said AP Government and AP Capstone teacher Bradley Boelman.

With test anxiety on the rise in North America, students likely have an aversion to the concept of finals themselves, meaning the issue does not necessarily lie in the timing itself. In addition, holding finals after break does give teachers more time to review in the additional weeks without rushing the class curriculum.

However, it is widely agreed upon that finals after break are far more difficult than they need to be. It therefore makes sense to review the CHS finals schedule to ensure a balance between academics and life outside of school.

“From a psychological standpoint, it’s hard to go on a two-week break and then bring it back and do so many different tests and assessments,” said Boelman. 

While there is merit for pushing finals until after Winter Break, having finals before is the better choice, as it allows students to fully enjoy their break and start fresh once they return. Not only would students and teachers receive a convenient break from stress, but students would be less likely to forget everything they learned previously. Scheduling finals before break is an obvious choice that would improve CHS for everyone.