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Student calls for an earlier start to school

By Andrea Leung

In recent years, Alameda High School has run on a slightly different schedule than other schools in the surrounding districts. Every school in the Alameda Unified School District runs on the same calendar. This later start causes many difficulties for high schoolers in particular. The easy solution to these problems would be to start the year a couple weeks earlier and get out a couple weeks earlier.  But every school in the district would have to follow the same calendar, and many people oppose this.

There are many benefits to this early-start-early-finish calendar. The first is that final exams will be moved to mid-December, prior to winter break. This proves beneficial to both teachers and students. According to senior Megan Nguyen, “starting earlier would mean higher test scores; you can’t guarantee that students will study during winter break, because I know I don’t.”

Many students across the district–including myself– share this opinion. As a senior who completed three years at AHS, I have always found it difficult to be away from school for two weeks, and then return to almost immediate final exams. It is hard enough to remember a semester of curriculum on its own, without the gap of two weeks for me to further forget it all.

Many teachers also share this opinion. AHS AP Statistics teacher Jeffrey Ma said he supports the idea of a new calendar, with the belief that students would perform better without the gap of two weeks interrupting the semester. Another benefit of starting earlier in August would be, as Ma said, being “able to finish first semester ahead of schedule.”

Another issue with our current schedule is the month left after AP testing. Because testing happens during the first two weeks of May, AP students are left with a full month of school after their exams are over.  This means that in AP classes, many teachers give fun projects as finals. For me, these projects are fun, but I do not see the necessity of spending three weeks on these projects. Personally, I would rather have these three weeks incorporated into school time prior to AP testing. These extra weeks would allow Alameda students to learn the AP material for a month longer than we have been in recent years. We have this deficiency of three weeks of instructions while the majority of other schools have this time before their tests, rather than after, to learn the material required for the AP tests.

While it might take some work for our school district to decide on a new calendar, I think that it would be wholly beneficial to both the teachers and the students to end the semester at the winter break. I for one would prefer to sacrifice those last couple of weeks of August in exchange for pre-winter break finals and an earlier summer.

But that is just my opinion. Who knows, maybe some people like watching their friends’ relief after finishing finals, knowing they have theirs in another month? And maybe some people prefer seeing the Instagram posts of their friends at the beach, while they are at school for an extra three weeks, writing a research project about Irish potatoes.

From a student’s point of view, the benefits of a school year that starts earlier and ends earlier greatly outweigh those of the calendar we currently have, and that we have had in recent years. This new potential calendar would, without a doubt, make the student body’s school year more efficient

AHS Journalism
The Oak Leaf, a product of the journalism class, is a vehicle of student expression and a public forum for the Alameda High School community.