Halting Highland

School slows to a stop during the final weeks.


Audra Welsch

Highland students resort to creative means to occupy their time during the last week of school.

Sophie Bauer, Staff Writer

It’s a scene familiar to students everywhere: The last weeks of school. Sitting around class and twiddling their thumbs, students try desperately to keep themselves occupied in the face of busy work, missing work, or a substitute that never shows.

If this sounds like a horror story or a nightmare, that’s because it is. Unfortunately, it’s also a situation that students have had to deal with every day of the last weeks of school for years.
And there’s nothing that can be done about it currently.

Because for all that students struggle with the boredom of the last weeks of school, teachers struggle more — and don’t have much of a choice in what their students can be doing.

Many Highland teachers teach AP classes, which must get through the course material in time for the AP tests in early May so that students can do well on their testing. If a teacher doesn’t get through all the material in time, their students will be unprepared for the tests — but it means that there’s nothing for them to teach in the almost month of school remaining. This leaves their students with nothing to do.

And there are other complications. Often, students leave early for summer because of time — or other — constraints. It can reach the point where teachers don’t feel that they can give out projects or work for risk of failing students who can’t help not being there.

So, teachers have few options for the last week, or two, or three. They do have some, though. Some teachers, like Highland P.E teacher Coach Tate, give extra credit for showing up to class on the last week. Others take the last week of school to offer their students time to make up work in other classes and get their grades up. When all else fails, there are always movies.
Still, students are understandably frustrated by the lack of work.

The state requires us as students to be in school for a certain number of hours, and we have to spend them staring at a wall or a movie we’ve already seen?

That’s likely the reason that a lot of students skip these days altogether — and there’s no real penalty for doing this. It is as if everybody realizes how much of a problem this is, no matter how many assemblies and service projects the school organizes, it isn’t fair to ask students to show up when they’re not given anything to do.

One solution would be to cut off the school year three weeks earlier, after the May AP tests. However, this wouldn’t be fair to students either, as they should have an opportunity to refocus their time and energy on their grades after studying for the strenuous tests.
The ideal solution would be for teachers to actually give their students work. Due to staggered scheduling, teachers do have to sacrifice more in-depth lessons earlier in the year in order to make it through everything.

Instead of completely abandoning these, teachers could make them into last-week lessons; ones that are interesting and involve student work and participation, but aren’t necessary to pass the course. Students could be given extra-credit grades for completing these lessons, which would reward students who did the work, but wouldn’t penalize those students who couldn’t make it.

Whatever students think of the last couple weeks of school, the current system for how Highland deals with it is clearly ineffectual. For the sake and the sanity of the students, Highland needs to find a way to keep their students engaged and learning in a non-punishable way during the end of the year. Otherwise, why should we, really, come?