The pre-summer slump

So the time of year has come again when the students of Greenwich High School land in the awkward no-man’s land between AP exams and summer vacation.

While it may not quite match the infamy of the second semester of senior year, the month between the end of May and the end of the academic year is certainly more relaxed than the rest of the year. Students are exhausted from spending the last couple of weeks preparing for exams and impatience runs high as everyone looks forward to the liberation of summer vacation.

While most private schools across the country are preparing for graduation ceremonies this week, or like Brunswick and Greenwich Academy, have already dismissed their students for the summer, the impact of Hurricane Sandy and winter snowstorms earlier this year means that the last day of school for Greenwich Public Schools students in June 24. Despite eliminating a day of April break to make up one of the school days missed, school ends on the last possible day and GHS students are looking ahead at a long month before the bell rings on the last day.

Most seniors have few classes, if any at all. Instead, after the last day of regularly scheduled AP exams on May 17, some choose to go on a senior internship at a local school or business, while others design their own senior projects to be completed before graduation. With nearly a quarter of the school’s population gone, the hallways are beginning to feel like the school is already emptying itself out in anticipation of the summer months.

Even in many classes that don’t have an AP test in May, teachers designed a curriculum to account for a half-empty classroom after seniors left. All but one of my academic classes had some proportion of seniors, which left most of my teachers with only a small group of juniors eager for a break from rigorous academic pursuits.

However, smaller classes and less pressure from looming test dates end up offering a good opportunity for students to work on projects intended to promote self-guided expansion and application of what we have learned throughout the year. Some of my teachers have assigned projects that have few guidelines beyond the requirement that our topics relate to the class, an arrangement that my classmates and I have found for the most part agreeable.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that we’re allowed to use our class time for independent on-campus research that too often deteriorates into conversations with friends.

Just because juniors are often allowed more flexibility in school doesn’t mean that the end of the school year is free of responsibility. Just as we begin to plan afternoons at the beach with friends and trips into New York City, we are reminded that the month of June isn’t just a formality before summer.

Colleges must be visited, arrangements for letters of recommendation must be finalized, and a final round of SATs, SAT IIs, and ACTs remain, not to mention final exams. But even if the stresses of junior year aren’t completely over, it does make studying a little more enjoyable to be able to do it on a beach.

 

Danielle Connolly is a junior at Greenwich High School. 

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