Winter Breaks- Too Busy and Too Short


Students just get eight school days off this year for winter break, causing frustration for many. –Emily Shpiece

MCPS students go to school for almost ten months of the year. They wake up ridiculously early, drag themselves to school, try to squash a lot of unnecessary information into their heads, participate in extracurricular activities, complete mountains of homework, and then maybe try to catch a few hours of sleep for ten months.

As a result, winter and spring vacations are the single most anticipated weeks of the entire year. So why must these precious weeks bogged down by exam preparation and homework?

First, MCPS is one of the few school systems that push their exams until approximately two weeks after winter break. This is supposed to give students more time to study, but all it really does is put stress on them when they should be relaxing. Almost all colleges have their semester exams before their students go home for the holidays in order to allow students to fully enjoy their time off.

Also, teachers apparently have no inhibitions about assigning their students large amounts of homework over what is supposed to be time off from school. In fact, they often look to winter break as an excellent time to assign students particularly difficult and extensive assignments. They believe that if students have more time, they should spend that time doing homework.

However, this is an absurd idea. The point of having a break is to give students the opportunity to concentrate on something other than school for a little while. It allows them to take the time to go on trips that increase their cultural understanding and acceptance and to spend much-needed time with family. When winter break becomes homework and exam-study week, it takes away very valued time.

There is also the question of why winter break is only one week. Why not two, or three? MCPS officials seem to think that the sole goal of students is to do well in school. However, this is not the case. We constantly discuss the concept of carpe diem in English class a Latin phrase, which translated, means “seize the day”. If we had winter breaks that were a little longer, we could do a little more carpe diem-ing and start living life a little more fully.

Not only is it important to enjoy life while we can, but having extended breaks can be beneficial academically, as well. In some other countries, students get vacation time in October, December, February and March/April. Students living in these places are more enthusiastic about coming to school. If we implemented the same system, MCPS students’ excitement about learning would also increase and they would get better grades.

MCPS officials need to re-think their assumptions that more school, and more schoolwork, is beneficial for students. If we are to really enjoy our time as teens, then longer, more constant and less academic vacations are in order.