Dear Student: It’s Finals, But You’ve Survived Worse

Of General Concern | Claudia Rojas | April 21, 2016

  • Copied

Dear Mason student:

I know you know, finals are around the corner. There are papers to write. Exams to take. Nonetheless, rejoice in the fact that you are a student of higher education.

Photo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Let me tell you how this means you’ve survived much worse in your school career. Here, I’m assuming, you’ve probably attended public school at one point in your life and look, you survived.

Remember those days? Public school is many things. Call it nightmare or dreamland, it’s a place where things happen and where people react. It’s a place that’s long history.

The awkward school dances are over. The constant backstabbing between so-called friends is over. The worry over fitting in or the success of your indifference is over. Maybe your lack of a boy/girlfriend is over, too. Maybe you’re slaying at being single.

For our younger generation, especially our local youth, this time of year is a time for protest.

Early this month, children at Murch Elementary School in Washington, DC starred in a video that protests a lack of funding for renovations at the school. In the video, students recite promises DCPS and the Department of General of General Services made of creating a cafeteria, an auditorium, and underground parking at the school. The video presents a Washington Post article with the headline  “Math error may prompt D.C. to scale back Murch School’s renovation.” As it turns out, the calculations were wrong and the budget isn’t enough to cover expenses for the school’s renovation. 

In Richmond, CBS 6 News reported that about hundred students walked out of local high schools on Monday, April 11th. The students headed to City Hall, where they requested that Richmond’s public schools receive a greater budget. Next year’s budget for Richmond’s public schools is at $5 million. That’s actually $13 million short, which means several building structures will  stay outdated and health hazards will stay overlooked for another year.

Later that same school week on Friday, April 15th, another 100 students protested in Baltimore. These students were protesting the state required test known as the PARCC. Many students expressed concerns with the growing rigor of the test. The concept of teaching to a test isn’t working for these students. One student and one of the rally’s coordinator, Katie Arevalo, believes the test is a “disadvantage” to minority students.

These student protests come from a place of frustration. 

U.S. News ranks high schools around the country based on several criteria. This year, Maryland earned first place. Connecticut and and California, with the biggest number of eligible high schools out of all states, were runner-ups. The District of Columbia placed sixth. Virginia placed 12th.classroom-student

The nation has a test addiction though. These rankings rely heavily on test performance. In fact, a study that will last two years, has begun in Maryland to analyze school testing habits. In this way, schools can remove unnecessary tests.

According to the Council of the Great City Schools, eighth grade students spend about 25.3 hours of standardized testing. In Virginia alone, these students are tested through SOLs (Standards of Learning) in Civics, Algebra, Science, Reading, and Writing. These students may also take year-end exams in a world language class. Tenth graders spend the second highest hours of testing with 23.9 hours.

If the hours taking a test don’t sound awful, maybe you’ve forgotten those hours of testing. Though you probably haven’t forgotten the hours of test preparation. Some students also sign-up for Saturday School, which means they’re relearning or reviewing material on a weekend to ensure they pass state tests. It’s not easy being a student right now, but you’ve got many stress factors out of the way.

If you’ve been wondering how you’ll survive this semester, know that you will.

You’ll find that place of strength. You’ll find ways to stretch yourself. You did it in kindergarten, that first year you had to learn all those funny characters on the page made sounds, where you learned to count apples rather than eat them. You did it in middle school when recess was taken away from you, when coloring activities were low. You did it in high school when you found about the ACT and SAT, in addition to taking all those AP or IB courses.

Guess what? You’ll do it again.


Girl Optimistic


Featured Image: High School by Bekah (CC BY-NC 2.0)