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Festive balancing act

Mimi Mager ’24

As the festive season approaches, South’s hallways are buzzing with excitement as students eagerly anticipate the upcoming Christmas break. While the majority of South’s population is set to begin break on Dec. 22, a subset of students and their families choose to extend the holiday celebration by a few days.

As classrooms begin to see a shift in attendance, teachers are presented with a unique challenge of maintaining continuity in their classes while also recognizing the significance of the holiday season for students. Parent and math teacher, Kristie Philliben, said she understands that students may not always have a choice when their family’s holiday plans require an extended break. However, she feels students must show responsibility in the event of leaving early.

“If it was my family, I would get it,” Philliben said. “But I think that I would expect a compromise to happen where if an extension is happening, [the student] is still trying to keep up with what is happening in school if they are able to.”

Similar to Philliben, chemistry teacher, Jessica Wieseler, aims to communicate with students when extending their break. Wieseler said she ensures that students always have access to the materials they miss and get the support they need, but an extended break and long period of time between classes can be problematic.

“I always try to encourage students to make up their work before they go, but if they’re gone for too long, then they have to do it when they come back,” Wieseler said. “I think that’s more challenging for students than anyone else.”

While Wieseler can slightly rearrange the curriculum in her elective Organic Chemistry class around break, she said that handling absences is much tougher in AP Chemistry, where a strict schedule is followed.

“Our AP test deadline is where it is and we have the class scheduled out for the whole semester,” Wieseler said. “Especially for AP students, it’s on them to figure out how they’re going to make up what they need to when they come back (from break).”

Regardless of the blend of classes a student takes, missing school around the holidays can be challenging and overwhelming. However, multiple AP and honors student, Addison O’Keefe ’24, said her teachers always plan ahead and support her when she takes an extended break.

“It can be very stressful missing multiple days of school,” O’Keefe said. “However, most of my teachers are very understanding of family commitments that I have outside of school.”

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About the Contributor
Mimi Mager ’24
Mimi Mager ’24, Staff Writer
Mimi Mager ’24 is a first year staff writer looking forward to being a part of The Tower community. Mimi said her go-to fun fact she tells people is that she spent the first several years of her life living in China. She also is fluent in Chinese, but will never speak it in front of people—even her parents. Mimi’s interest in Tower came when she saw how fun, and communicative, the program is. “I’m super excited to be able to add my voice into the school newspaper and be able to work with so many amazing people, work out of my comfort zone and take on things I would normally feel comfortable doing,” Mager said. Besides being a new member of The Tower, Mimi spends most of her time volunteering, working and being a part of the Girls Varsity Tennis team.

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