Shortened summer will yield welcome long-term effects

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Max Stahl, staff writer

The school year, at long last, is finally winding down. CST testing begins next week, AP exams two weeks after that, and senior finals in just a month and a half. Non-seniors have only 35 days of school left before their finals. That’s the good part.

The bad part is, freshman, sophomores and juniors will be returning to school a mere two months after the last day of finals. Lasting 61 days, this will be the BHUSD’s shortest summer since at least 2005.

Of course, I am not happy about this. As an incoming senior, this will be the busiest summer I will have ever experienced; college applications and summer reading are rather time consuming. I am thankful, nonetheless, that the BHUSD made the scheduling change, despite its inherent flaws.

As an AP student, I benefit from the earlier start more than a large number of my peers do. Since AP exam dates are fixed, starting the school year in mid-August gives advanced placement classes more time to prepare for their May exams. This extra time may reduce the stress involved in taking these classes. In any event, it should improve students’ test scores. From my own selfish perspective, therefore, I am glad the changes were made.

But certain consequences of the earlier start avail all Beverly students, and not just those taking advanced classes. Winter break, for instance, will likely begin immediately after the end of first semester finals, if not in 2013, then almost certainly in 2014. Since winter break will now separate first semester from second, teachers will be less likely to assign work over the vacation. Students forgetting material over the vacation would also be a far less significant problem.

Students, in addition, will have more time to prepare for STAR testing. Although classes tend not to focus on these tests, having more school time before them is a nice perk anyway. It’s also worth remembering that an earlier start means an earlier end: the class of 2014 will graduate on May 30.

Really, this is an issue of who has to bear the burden. No one wants a shorter summer. Students need ample time away from school after second semester in order to unwind and return relaxed and refreshed the next year. Yet, the shift to an earlier start and finish was a necessary change, and after one uncomfortable summer no more foreseeable drawbacks will present themselves. All school years to come (barring another change) will enjoy the benefits of the early start. There had to be one summer in which we suffered the effects of this shift, and unfortunately it will be this one.

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