Soon, we might be having finals before winter break

Khushi Kanchibotla

Staff Writer

     Congratulations! We have all successfully survived the first semester of the 2019-2020 academic year. With finals over, we only have four and a half months of school left. But what if those four and a half months became only four months? Thanks to the efforts to integrate the calendar shift into the school district, this could soon be a reality.

     The calendar shift is something most students at American have heard about. The purpose of this project is to push our school calendar forward to start in mid-August in order to have finals before winter break. The idea is that this change would promote a better learning environment for numerous students, including AP students, ELL students, and student athletes. Additionally, teachers benefit from this shift as well, in terms of how much time they have to grade finals and teach the curriculum in a grading period.

     “So the whole calendar [would] essentially [be] shifted backward…we will start school a little earlier, and we would also end earlier. The main thing is that the semester one final would be before winter break, so we would have a whole break to recuperate after that,” explains Lavanya Neti, a junior and a member of the SURFBoardE (Students United for the Representation on the Fremont Board of Education).

     SURFBoardE is an organization that voices students’ opinions to the Board of Education. Each school has three representatives from each Fremont high school. They meet bi-monthly to discuss students’ concerns and plan the District Representative Conference. 

     The fight for the shift in the calendar has been going on for many years. Students hope every year that the upcoming academic year would see the shift implemented. Every year, students are informed about the shift, so what makes it different this year? 

     Neti says, “In the beginning, we just needed to gain support and inform people about what the shift is. Now, we are trying to get that final push and get it passed by the district. We have already posted this, and it is on the negotiating table.”

     Students are a vital part of this shift. The calendar shift would have a major impact if it took place. Fall sports wouldn’t start before school, and teachers could better utilize class time for AP exams instead of having a month of class after the exams. However, for this to be implemented, the summer break would have to be shortened by a few weeks. 

     What do students say about this? Are they okay with shortening their summer break for the calendar shift?

     Nicole Lai, a junior and a member of the student council says, “I think it depends on how long our summer [is reduced by]. If the shift makes the summer shorter permanently, I feel like students would start having second thoughts. I, personally, would be okay with a shorter summer.”

     However, not to fret—this proposed shift wouldn’t permanently shorten the summer or lengthen the school year. It would only shorten the summer by one to three weeks for the first few years, but it does not change the number of school days—just which days of the year they are.

     Extra time to study is not the only benefit of the calendar shift. Fall sports start before school starts, but with the shift, the sports would start simultaneously with the school. The first official day of practice is August 12th. 

     Along with benefits for academics, the shift would also put FUSD on a more similar schedule compared to the school districts around us. 

     Neti says, “We would be in accordance with the districts around us, because a lot of districts around us already do implement this shifted calendar.”

     Districts such as San Ramon have already implemented this calendar shift. On December 15, 2015, the San Ramon Valley Board of Education approved the 2016-2017 Instructional Calendar. This calendar ends the first semester before the Winter Break, shifting the calendar forward by one week.

     Pavithra Movva, a junior at California High School in San Ramon, says, “I like having my finals before winter break, because it allows me to enjoy my break…Also, the material we learn is still fresh in my head. We also have more access to teachers on campus to ask clarifying questions. It just allows us to have a fresh start along with the new year.”

     Along with school-related benefits, time spent with family would increase, as during winter break, students wouldn’t be stressing over finals.  

     Movva says, “I have friends whose schools haven’t implemented the calendar shift yet, and it’s really hard when we want to meet up during break. They constantly just complain about finals, and they’re usually always just preparing for finals.” 

     This shift may seem like it has a universal impact on everyone, but parents don’t seem to be affected. Parents usually don’t get as big of a summer break like their children do, so their children may be left at home alone. 

     One parent, Sai Kumar, says, “The shift doesn’t really affect me that much, because my daughter is old enough to take care of herself at home alone. Even if we have trips planned, we usually plan them in the middle of summer so [that] we have some leisure time before and after the trip.”

     If you are a freshman or sophomore, get ready for a change in the calendar. Even though this has been a common topic over the years, this year may be different as the shift is finally on the negotiating table with the FUSD Board. Finals before winter break may be happening after all!

Lavanya Neti is a member of the SURFBoardE, an organization that voices students’ voices to the Board of Education. Neti is pictured here with Rachana Aithal and Alicia Chen, representatives of American High School on SURFBoardE. Neti says, “We got a lot of complaints from AP students and sports about the wasted time after AP tests and fall sports starting before school does.”

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