Late release date for seniors creates obstacles with summer jobs, prevents other opportunities

Statistics courtesy of Lindsay Stanek 16

Statistics courtesy of Lindsay Stanek ’16

This year, senior exams will not end until Wednesday, June 8, though historically seniors would be released a week earlier. This scheduling snafu can be easily blamed on the late labor day that delayed a start to the school year, however, many other factors account for it, and could be used to find a solution.

Nearby University Liggett School seniors were out last week, as well as private Catholic schools such as University of Detroit Jesuit. South seniors, understandably, aren’t over-the-moon with this situation. One of the benefits of being a senior is getting out early, and although this year’s still do finish before their underclassmen counterparts, it’s much later than other schools.

In Michigan, we have a system of peer districts, set by the state, that serve as comparable school districts to our own based on the size of the student body, the percent of students that qualify for free/reduced-price lunch, student/teacher ratios and money spent per student, according to mischooldata.org. Grosse Pointe has twelve of these districts. Nine of these release seniors in May, with the other two releasing about one school week prior to when South does.

Eleven of our peer districts will already have had their graduation ceremonies by the time our seniors are out of school.  

If we didn’t give senior exams, then the seniors would finish on June 3, almost a whole week earlier than the current finish date and much closer to the release dates of our peer districts.. In many schools across the nation, seniors aren’t required to take finals as long as they have an A in the class or if they took an AP exam for the course. This system of exempting seniors also provides motivation for students to maintain high grades and avoid the classic case of ‘senioritis.’  

In addition to avoiding the confusing schedule that other students must endure during senior exams, this leaves teachers with more time to focus on wrapping up their other courses and preparing their younger students for their meaningful finals.

Furthermore, seniors tend to take more AP courses as they cycle through, due to access to classes otherwise unavailable, such as AP Physics, AP Literature and AP Calculus.

Once a student has taken an AP exam, it feels pointless to have them take an additional final on the subject matter they’ve already vigorously studied and tested on only a few short weeks prior.  

The AP issue is most clearly presented in students who take a large number of them. If a senior has three or more AP courses, then it means they spend an additional three weeks in school learning material not required by the College Board’s set curriculum or doing busy work, putting students in an incredibly boring and trivial situation. The same rationale is easily applied to non-seniors in an abundance of AP courses.

There are an abundance of ideas to be explored that would allow for an earlier release date, not just for seniors, but all students. Elimination of mid-Winter break would allow students to get out for summer a week earlier. Senior projects could take the place of exams, providing meaningful skills and an opportunity to give back to the community.

Though opponents of a finals exemption may cite that an AP exam isn’t ‘gradable’ for teachers, a short test functioning as a final could be given the day following, taking away the stress on students to study for a final in a class they already took an exam on.

Another option is to extend our current school day by as little as fifteen minutes and electing to begin first bell at 7:45 am. This seemingly small difference snowballs and would allow us to release not only seniors, but possibly all students, six days earlier than we currently do.

The especially late release date limits opportunities for both seniors and other students. Time spent in school past AP exams learning new material that doesn’t fall into the class’s curriculum could have been spent working and saving up money for college.

Additionally, seniors who procure internships can miss crucial training days. This inability to attend the first weeks of an internship also means South students may be passed over in favor of others who are available on those days.

Another solution may be modeled after the co-op system already in place, where counselors do more to help inform seniors about internships, and seniors who receive these jobs can work after they have completed their AP exams, gaining valuable work experience that can stand out on a future resume and help pay their college tuition.

Altogether, the incredibly late release date for Grosse Pointe seniors this year has many negative effects, not only those to whom it applies but the student body as a whole. An earlier date would provide opportunities for volunteering or working to fund a college education, as well as allowing teachers to focus on their students who still have significant finals to take.

This problem could be solved through elimination of breaks, exam exemptions, senior projects, or changing our school start time, but ultimately it is up to us as students to voice our concerns on what we deem unnecessary and useless time spent in school to our administrators.