Final exams, more commonly known as finals, has been an ongoing debate in the school district for several years. However, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the board to rethink the idea of finals for the 2020-2021 school year.
This year, the administration decided finals would not be fair to students as some students are doing ViPR and some participating in the hybrid, in-person schedule. Principal Steven Miller has been part of the finals discussion.
“It’s going to take us twice as many days as it normally does, and so we felt like finals would impact instruction too much. When our students are only here every other day, then we’re going to take another day of the finals schedule, where they spend 90 minutes just testing, and they miss instruction in other classes. We just thought we couldn’t justify that,” said Miller.
When considering the pros and cons of the situation, the administration decided making students take finals and dealing with the conflicts could not be warranted. This decision is fully supported by the staff, including head of the science department Patrick Hemmingsen.
“I’m okay with it. Having all of that hard work leading up to the end was probably causing more stress than was necessary.” said Hemmingsen.
Miller was also concerned about student stress levels during this troubling time. He is supporting the decision he thinks will most benefit the students. He does not feel like the school should add more strain to students’ personal and academic lives.
“I think it will definitely be more beneficial for this particular year. The last thing that students probably want to do every other day is have to worry about studying for finals when they’re already struggling with the system that we have,” said Miller.
Even during regular years when finals are taken, there is conflict about the benefits versus the stress. Sometimes they can be helpful, while other times they can drop a student’s grade a whole letter. However, moving forward, finals may not be a fixture in our future.
“It’s always going to be stressful, but I think finals have their place. But will we have finals moving forward? I can’t say that. I think that’s going to be something that we’re going to have to ask our teachers, going to have to ask our students, and maybe we just don’t have finals anymore,” said Miller.
Senior Joel Miles has participated in finals for the past three years. He feels this decision is the most fair to students, and this year will not be too different for him than previous years, as he usually does not study.
“I think the finals decision is the only fair choice for most students. Honestly, I don’t go out of my way to study for finals much in a normal year, so this personally won’t affect me too much. It will be nice to not have to worry about them though,” said Miles.
Senior Brendan Fuller, however, feels the decision will impact his year more than it usually does. He usually plans his amount of studying around his grades in the class.
“I looked to see what my grade in the class is. If it is at or above 97%, I don’t study. If it is at or below 96%, I study. If it is at or below 93%, then I study extensively, so I’ll spend several hours studying. If it is at or below 90%, I panic and study as much as physically possible,” said Fuller.
Teachers are also supporting this decision, and they plan on doing something in place of the usual exams during the finals season. The administration would like the different departments to have some consistency throughout them on their specific approach. Mr. Hemmingsen talks about his plans for this year’s changes.
“I’m still going to give a big unit test, but it’s not going to be over the entire semester. We’re still going to be working,” said Hemmingsen.
This year has been trying and eye-opening for a lot of students as they are adjusting to this new normal. However, when it comes to finals, some stress may be alleviated after the decision not to have final exams this year was made.