Shortened winter break exacerbates student stress


Aviv Roskes

Most students at Wilson can agree that the length of winter break is extremely unsatisfactory. In the past, students were able to enjoy two full weeks off of school. This year, we were a couple full school days short. In the final days leading up to break, the few remaining students in town were saddened to see all of their friends from other schools already off for the holidays.

Part of the reason for the timing of this year’s break is that Christmas happened to fall on a Monday. This made it convenient to have school off on only the Friday before, under the assumption that students would only need three days before to travel. DCPS tried to compensate for the loss of this week by adding one more day at the end, but it was not enough. Unfortunately, next year Christmas is to fall on a Tuesday, which may shorten the break even more.

Winter break is necessary because students and teachers alike need to pause and reflect after several consecutive months in school. Over the course of the school year, the level of stress increases, more homework gets assigned, and students start getting fewer and fewer hours of sleep.

When the bell rings at 3:25 the day break starts, students feel like a weight is lifted off of their shoulders. Everyone can finally relax, enjoy free time, explore, and spend time with their families. It’s almost too perfect!

But then, after this brief moment, students take a look at their planners and remember how much homework they have to do. All throughout break, there is an ever-present voice that is telling students to get started on their work. This results in a not-so-relaxing break.

The fact that midterms lie ahead only makes this feeling worse. You remember that there is not a fresh start once you get back to school. Winter break ends before the semester is over, so when students get back, they immediately feel the pressure of an almost-over semester. Everyone has to scramble to salvage their grades. In the midst of all this, students have to start studying for midterms as well. Many schools place winter break in this middle of the two semesters to alleviate this issue.

The length and amount of homework given during winter break would be acceptable if there were more throughout the school year. A prime example is France, where in addition to winter and spring, students receive a break every two months. This keeps students more attentive and motivated to work hard during their days in school. Part of the reason it was so hard to come back to school is because students knew that they would not get another break until the spring. For that reason, many students come to dread the third advisory.

Would students really have a higher rate of success with more time out of school? Definitely. With more attention and motivation, students would try harder and perform better. But more importantly, levels of anxiety and stress would decrease, leading to a happier, healthier student body.