As first semester draws to a close, the pressure of oncoming exams becomes prevalent in every student’s daily routine. We spend days finishing work and nights studying, and class is dedicated to review. Instead of the usual Instagram and Snapchat, students on their phones open PowerSchools and RogerHub’s Final Grade Calculator. Everyone wants to end the semester with good grades– and not just for the PTSA-issued Chick-Fil-A gift card. Talk of GPA’s, colleges, and transcripts are heavy during the last few weeks of the semester. Exam week has developed a unique culture, and students and faculty alike are subject to the emotional and mental rollercoaster.
Over the duration of the four testing days, every student relates to each others’ struggles, stress, and frustration. Sweatpants and sweatshirts are the traditional costume for the occasion. The hallways hold no shortage of fuzzy sock-clad students wearing blankets like capes. Everyone’s aware of the painful stretch of time spent waiting for school to end after finishing the day’s exam, and the comfort of soft, lazy clothing makes the wait easier to endure as students read books, doodle, or snooze.
However, the testing period hasn’t always lasted four days. In fact, just last year, students came to school for two days and took two exams each day. For some, the schedule adjustment is a welcome change. Many students and staff believe testing twice a day led to energy drainage, restlessness, and exhaustion. “During the old schedule I wouldn’t do well on my second exam ‘cause my brain would be tired from the first,” said Corey Ibrahim, a sophomore at Leesville. “I have more time to study for one test at a time instead of trying to review two classes before the exam day.”
Others are bitter about the change in exam schedule. The anticipation of a week-long break after exams was a light at the end of the tunnel. “The old schedule gave us just enough time to finish each exam and spend the whole day being productive, instead of taking a test for an hour or two and now sitting around doing nothing for two more,” said Lyric Chassin, also a sophomore. Chassin believes the new schedule is inefficient and a waste of time for all parties involved. “The schedule was very organized and allowed students to only go on specific days, and when they were done, they got 4-5 days off… This one is worse because they are giving us long days for no reason– hours that could be used for productivity and future learning, but instead we sit and stare at a wall.”
Despite the controversy, one group of students is unaffected by and therefore indifferent to the schedule change. Seniors can opt for exemption from the exams of most classes, as long as they maintain a C or above in the given class. Additionally, they must limit their absences during the semester– an A allows for 3 absences, a B allows for 2, and a C grants 1. Exempt seniors spend testing days relaxing at home or out with friends. Many even use this opportunity to plan a road trip or vacation. Sleepovers and parties are plentiful, and beach trips are a popular choice.
Students at Leesville have also developed a tradition of making exam days more bearable by utilizing the second half of the day for recreational purposes. Since lunchtime is not included in the school day’s schedule during exams, many students go out to lunch with friends and unwind after the high stress and pressures of testing. “I am a sophomore and am not allowed to leave campus for lunch on normal school days, so I can go out to lunch on an exam day because it ends early,” said Chassin. “It’s fun because you can drive with your friends and listen to music…. I like to go to Chick-Fil-A because it’s the best fast food place on earth.”
Exam week is a mental and emotional rollercoaster for students and staff alike. Pressures are high as everyone rushes to tie up loose ends and finish the semester on a high note. However, the students of Leesville have created a tradition of outings, social time, and recreation to unwind and shake off the pressures of the day. They celebrate the end of 18 weeks of hard work and the conclusion of finals. They fill recycling bins with the tests, quizzes, assignments, homework, and papers of the past semester and empty their backpacks and minds, looking forward to a fresh start.