District 87 board members designated the completion of first semester finals prior to winter vacation this year. The summer of 2017 was shortened in order to accomplish this due to the shift in the upcoming school year; however, the summer of 2018 will be set back to the original length for returning Glenbard West students, allowing them to enjoy a full summer break. This was implemented for students to have a stress-free break and the opportunity to start fresh with second semester after break.
Dr. Jeffrey Feucht, the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services, says there are different benefits for each division of our community here at Glenbard concerning the new schedule. Students and teachers benefit similarly: this change leads to more “coherent planning and scheduling” for students and teachers, allowing both students and teachers to “recharge” over break.
Dr. Feucht states, “An additional benefit for students is if you look at it, they get more instructional days prior to the SAT for juniors, so it’s kind of more for juniors, but it will help every class going forward.”
Dr. Feucht was not on the calendar committee that made the executive decision that finals should be before winter break this year. Nevertheless, he said they have been planning this for many years and have looked into many approaches with other districts in Illinois, such as Hinsdale Township District 86 and Elgin Area School District U-46.
Due to this change, seniors will be able to have somewhat of an extended summer before beginning their freshman year of college. Seniors who are involved with the college application process will find it easier to acquire all necessary information for selected colleges. This allows students to have the opportunity to send in their finalized grades earlier than in previous years.
Tad Keely, guidance counselor, is a “big fan” of having finals before winter break, and concludes that students’ stress levels will be lowered due to being able to have a relaxing break. Since semester classes will be over, they will have fewer assignments during the break, although some teachers may assign work.
However, some students and teachers will be challenged to try to keep up with the new semester schedule since they will not have a two-week study break before finals or time to complete unfinished assignments or lesson plan, respectively. Because of the time crunch, there will be no extra time for students to catch up on previous assignments. AP Computer Science teacher Mr. Nero feels strongly that he will be able to fit in all of his lesson plans with no worries. He plans to accomplish this by planning efficiently and teaching on pace with his lesson plans.
One of the biggest changes will be that when break ends, second semester starts right away. In previous years, teachers would have preparation days for second semester after coming back from winter break.
Fortunately, Mr. Nero says he will be able to get most of his planning for second semester done during finals week but will come in the weekend before school starts to finish up last minute plans and get mentally prepared for the new semester.
Some teachers have to take multiple approaches to this change because they also coach sports during winter break. However, other teachers, like Social Studies teacher and Varsity Wrestling coach Mr. Posegay feels that the change of the school schedule will not affect his scheduling for wrestling because the schedule was already created for this year.
Sam Fenske, a Glenbard West senior who is very involved in the West community (participating on the Varsity football and baseball teams as well as being a member of many clubs) believes that having finals before winter break will not change anything. In fact, he thinks it will become more complicated to study for finals now because “students will have less free time to get the studying done.”
However, Fenske puts all his confidence in the teachers at Glenbard West to fit in all the learning material before the early finals “without cramming and putting too much on us.” You must put in the work in order to achieve the grades you want, Fenske continues.
From a parent’s point of view, having finals before winter break is a win-win situation. Nora Greeno, mother to Glenbard West senior Trevor Greeno, is very pleased with the change and believes it should have been done sooner.
She mentions that “[she] is happy that finally one of her kids will not have to worry about finals and [will be] able to take a real family vacation over the long break.”
Despite the shortened summer vacation this past summer, many believe this decision will pay off for both students and teachers in the long run.