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ROUGH TERRAIN Beck races on a hilly and rocky course on his mountain bike. “I like longer courses because of the terrain and how it’s not just the same thing over and over,” Beck said. “On these courses, it’s about navigating the hills and maintaining a good pace because the course is so long.”
Tour de Beck
December 7, 2023
Curtain call
Curtain call
December 7, 2023

Midterms are coming,

…and they are bigger than ever before
Midterms are coming,

It’s a sound you know well. The almost instantaneous silence that falls at the rustling of papers being handed out. It’s funny, the library never looked so big before. You’re surrounded by the people from the “other sections.” Other sections. Other people. New rules. Is that a scantron!?

Midterms, finals, reality-checks–whatever you want to call them–are a stark departure from the norm at our school. They’re rigid, there are correct answers, and everyone gets the same one in front of them. No exceptions, no “sui generis,” no wishy-washiness of any kind. 

So you could say that we were a little surprised to hear that the school thought it necessary to remove this relic of a bygone era. But what we were more surprised by is that at the same time as they ended this tradition, they decided to add even more. 

To be frank, we don’t understand why they did this. It makes no sense. Greenhills has decided to get rid of those bulky exams with all those people, and break them down into individual classes, presumably because teachers love proctoring exams so much. Moreover they’ve decided to require each class to do something with that time. Way to streamline things.

 We’re sure there were nothing but good intentions behind this change. We’re not criticizing the effort or the good people pulling the strings behind the scenes. We love that after all of the shake ups in administration over the past few years, they feel like they can switch things up. All we’re saying is that the captain of the Titanic had good intentions too.

So let’s handle these issues one at a time: more tests, less breaks, different sections.

We love finals as much as the next guy (that’s to say, not much at all). So you can imagine that the thought of a week of back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back (whoo!) finals makes us want to, respectfully, gouge our eyeballs out. What happened to those breaks? What happened to taking that elective that didn’t have a test? What happened to our time to get our heads above water for a minute, because we may or may not have taken on a little more than we could handle, potentially, and maybe that decision to take that “easy” AP isn’t looking so good right now, BUT HOW IN THE WORLD WERE WE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT IT WOULD BE THIS WAY?

Sorry, got a little carried away there, but the point still stands. Many of us have planned our lives (alright, slow down Mr. Melodrama) around the assumption that we would have a moment to recoup, and study, and maybe even let our shoulders out of our ears for a little bit. This throws a wrench in that. The new plan is a way of creating artificial stress. There’s no reason you should have an exam, or even a project, or even a discussion in FRESH or any number of other classes that aren’t built for it. There’s no reason why we should be in this building one second more than we need to be. For students, but for teachers too. Every elective teacher that’s stuck here until 3 on Friday just keeping an eye on us, every scantron punched that didn’t need to be, is a little pain that didn’t need to happen. Not to mention the inconvenience teachers have to go through to write multiple exams to ensure that students don’t cheat, (which, by the way, won’t prevent students from cheating.) 

With so many students already stressing about their chaotic schedules during exam week, the administration decided to give us a little break between “classes.” The 15 minute break between periods doesn’t help at all with academic stress. Since the school is so big on giving students time to adjust and ease into their classes, wouldn’t it be logical to have a longer rest time between exams? Those 15 minutes do absolutely nothing; before students even have time to process the emotional trauma from the last disaster of an exam, they’re forced to march straight into another one. It’s annoying, to say the least. 

  But it’s not all bad, we get the comfort of our smaller classes, which is good. It’s basically just a weird week of school. Lesson plans for classes without exams? A 75 minute lecture during a school week is already sending students to their breaking points, but 90 minutes during exam week? There’s no way that’s going to work. None of the students are going to be listening; why would you when you’d rather cram for an exam right after? The teachers are going to be stuck with distracted students who have zero regard towards the lesson and would rather take twenty “bathroom breaks” just to get in more study time. 

See, the big room was never the problem with exams, teachers do just fine making that gym or library feel small. The problem is the paper. Many classes already do projects instead of tests, and we recognize that format isn’t good for all material. That’s progress, not closing off our experience to the twenty people that happened to be put in the same room as us.

The best exam schedule is having all of your final projects done BEFORE the week you actually take exams, not during it. The whole point is that you can solely focus on studying for exams without having the additional worry of presenting other projects. It’s comforting to know that you’ve over and done with one of the hardest parts of the end of the semester. Having exams and final projects at the same time will only result in students stressing even more and completely disregards the fact that literally no one would want to simultaneously manage two things at once.

Change is good when there’s a reason for it. All classes having midterms, or finals for semester courses, seems fair. Having them shortened seems fair too. It feels like a Greenhills thing to do. We like to be fair, supportive, progressive, learning-oriented, but too often this identity–the core of our school–becomes a brand. The truth is we will have to take tests in our lives. Finals prepared us for that. Shortening tests and adding more projects won’t just be more stressful, it won’t do the job it needs to. Just because it’s on brand doesn’t mean it’s good. 

 

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