School Calendar Must Change, Say Iolani Teachers
By Sheri Uyemura and Michelle Sato
Teachers are questioning the appropriateness of our present calendar and considering modifications.
The issue of change arose because of the significant amounts of stress on both teachers and students. A more appropriate calendar may relieve some of that stress.
Some of the options for change are ending the semester before the Christmas vacation, having exams before Christmas vacation, beginning the school year earlier, or ending the second semester much later by beginning the school year later and ending later.
Change is uncertain due to the reluctance of many teachers to make a firm commitment to the idea of an alternative calendar. In a faculty meeting on Feb. 2, no definate changes were discussed, but the faculty did go over the current state of the calendar and the issue of whether a change is even called for.
As a result, a committee formed, not to create change, but to come up with potential alternatives so the faculty could then decide if change is needed.
One of the main issues discussed was the timing of the semester exams. Many teachers said that the timing was actually detrimental to the students and should be changed.
"Students should be able to have a true Christmas vacation and time to relax," said Father Daniel Stewart.
If exams occurred earlier, however, problems would arise in the timing of other events, such as in performing arts. "Student performances usually take place the last two weeks before the end of school. Exams would prevent [the performing arts department] from scheduling their Christmas performances," said band teacher Mr. Curtis Abe.
Also, teachers said their concerns about the timing of athletic events and any interferences created by exams before Christmas. "Actually, the calendar now is more accommodating because winter sports only have pre-season tournaments before Christmas, but during the exams now is ILH games," said Athletic Department Head Carl Schroers, arguing against a change.
The end of the semester before Christmas was another issue that supported change. "If the semester were to end before the Christmas vacation, students could have closure," said Father Stewart.
Other teachers believed this was not a significant issue. "Most classes are year-round, and concepts that the students are learning do not end with the semester," said Ms. Pamela Fujinaka.
The issue of the scheduling of summer school arose. With many schools switching to year-round school, a concern in the scheduling of summer school and how it affects the year-round calendar exists.
"If the summer school calendar is to change there will be problems for credit courses," said Director of Summer School Deborah Hall. According to Ms. Hall, students need the full six weeks to complete any credit courses and also need the complete month after summer school ends to recover for the regular school year.
There are many issues to consider in deciding if a change in the calendar is appropriate. "Keep in mind that we are doing this for the students," said Ms. Gail Schroers.
Faculty at the meeting agreed that a change is needed, both students and parents should be involved in the committee in order to create a calendar that is best suited to all.
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