Workloads Increase as First Semester Culminates

Gabi Appel

With winter break approaching the end of the semester not only wraps up semester-long course electives but also concludes important units in year-long courses, often creating a stressful time for Upper School students.

“The end of the semester is always pretty difficult,” senior Chancey Stefanos said. “So I knew that it was going to be heavy with group projects, final papers and tests.”

Sophomore Sophie Fiedelman returned from Thanksgiving break anticipating the workload and recognizing that her stress levels were only going to rise throughout the duration of the three weeks.

“I have four major assignments due on the same day, and it adds more stress to my plate to even try to reschedule them,” Fiedelman said.

With the switch from trimesters to semesters, final exams were taken away, and major assignments were put into their place. Head of Upper School Trevor Worcester mentioned how the elimination of final exams was in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worcester added that as a result of this schedule change, policies had to be put into place to determine when certain assignments were due.

“We decided that the last four days before the end of the semester is a time in which teachers can only assign one major assessment per class,” Worcester said.

The policy requires teachers to post assignments at least one week in advance in order to allow time for students to request an extension if they already have three major assignments scheduled for that day.

Because teachers are unlikely to go on break in the middle of the unit due to the duration or the break, year-long courses often get heavy at the end of a semester along with semester-long classes.

“We’ve always been trying to figure out a way to stretch things out a little bit to not make it such a hectic and stressful time at the end of December,” Worcester said. “And part of it is I’m [hoping] that students are also taking advantage of the adults to help them plan.”

Aside from the school workload, seniors are actively working on college applications and anticipating hearing decisions from schools.

Stefanos mentioned how she has had to learn to accept that she has already done everything she can for her application, and that focusing on keeping her semester grades high is more important.

“I’m not really stressing about what I can do to affect my [early decision] answer,” Stefanos said. “It’s more about the idea that if I don’t get into my ED, I have 12 other applications.”

Senior Aaron Johnson echoes how Stefanos feels, and recognizes that having to balance extracurriculars, school work and college applications can be really difficult, even though he feels his senior year has prepared him for these three weeks.