Curated by Benjamin Acosta, '23
Theo Johnson, ‘23
I died on Christmas
What a home for ghosts
Tony Wang, ‘24
the winter is long
it is my favorite season
may snowfall come soon
Jacob Fife, ‘23
Iowa I go
Iowa, there’s still no snow
No snow makes me sad
Benjamin Acosta, ‘23
among christmas joys
book of Boba Fett
Teddy Palmore, ‘23
I sit here at home
There is nothing to do here
At least there’s no school
JT Willard, ‘23
The new year has come
Let’s rejoice with hearty cheer
Good fortune to all
The Exchanged Editors
ELLISON LIBRARY—December 16th, 2021 was a day of death. Of sorrow. Of mourning. On this day, The Saint Albans News fell into the trap of misinformation. Thanks to our investigative journalists, The Exchanged has uncovered evidence of fake polls published by News Editors-in-Chief Eliot Chang, ‘22, and Duncan Smith, ‘22, to punish competition. Shockingly, Ms. Dawson, long-standing member of the St. Albans English Department and new faculty advisor to The News, not only approved these polls but continues to display them on her office door. The Close lost one of its last reputable newspapers that day. What’s next to go? Gyre? The Albanian? BARK? We only have so much time before the allure of taking down The Exchanged corrupts these venerated publications.
Here's our evidence:
The fake poll published by the Saint Albans News. Recent polling (below) suggests that this is fictitious.
Quote from Ms. Dawson, the new faculty advisor to the News. She put it best: one can only “jokingly” claim dominance over The Exchanged.
Recent polling conducted by The Exchanged:
While BARK, under the guidance of Mr. Mills, is unable to be defeated, The Exchanged is a whole twelve percentage points higher than The Saint Albans News.
Maryam Mohseni, ‘24
Winter isn’t called the holiday season for no reason. It’s absolutely jam-packed with celebrations, from religious holidays to cultural traditions. For me, the holidays mean celebrating Christmas with my huge family. Although Christmas is the most well-known and widely celebrated winter holiday across the United States, countless other celebrations abound. Similar to Christmas, some are religious in nature, however, others mark the end of the past year and bring the promise of new beginnings. Although these holidays are celebrated by many in the United States, they come from a variety of cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Without further ado, here are the most popular winter holidays celebrated in the United States:
Hanukkah: Eight Days from the 25th day of Kislev
Hanukkah – Hebrew for “dedication” – is a Jewish holiday based on the story of the menorah in the Second Temple of Jerusalem that burned for eight days despite having a day’s supply of oil. The temple had just been rededicated to God following the Maccabean Revolt, where the Jews rose up to defeat the powerful Greek-Syrian army that oppressed them. It was seen as a miracle and thus, Hanukkah was born. During each of Hanukkah’s eight nights, one candle on the menorah is lit by the Shamash candle – the ninth candle used to ignite the rest. A recitation of special blessings accompanies the nightly lighting ceremony followed by the singing of traditional songs. Traditional food dishes, such as potato pancakes called latkes and jelly-filled donuts called sufganiyot, are fried in oil to honor the initial oil-based miracle. Many Jewish families exchange gifts, one for every of the eight nights, wrapped in traditional silver and blue gift bags.
Winter Solstice: December 21
Winter Solstice marks the start of winter and the longest night of the year. Although some don’t consider the Winter Solstice a holiday, it is celebrated by many cultures. Native American tribes, like the Zuni and the Hopi, celebrate the sun returning after the longest night of the year. These celebrations, called Soyal, last for around sixteen days. Celebrations include cultural dances, prayers, stories, and songs. People dress up in costumes for festivals and families get together for feasts and gift exchanges. Many Soyal practices are performed to welcome helpful spirits called kachinas. Middle Eastern cultures also celebrate the Winter Solstice, which they call Yalda. In the past, Yalda was a time to celebrate Mithra, the god of light and mark the end of the harvest season. Traditions include staying up late with family, reading traditional literature, like poems and myths, praying for luck, and eating fruits such as pomegranates, which signify life.
Christmas: December 25
Christmas, of course, originated with the birth of Jesus Christ. Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, the church in the early fourth century fixed the date as December 25. Nearly all Americans celebrate Christmas in some form, despite many not identifying as Christians themselves. In fact, 93% report celebrating the holiday, while only 65% define themselves as Christians. Christmas has come to symbolize family, love, coziness, and expressions of joy. It’s a time for families to come together, decorating houses in lights, exchanging gifts, and most importantly listening to Christmas music.
New Year’s Eve/New Year’s: December 31 - January 1
On December 31st, New Year’s Eve, family, and friends get together, staying up until midnight, to celebrate the beginning of the new year. In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City’s Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Other customs include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever popular “Auld Lang Syne." Of course, it wouldn’t be New Year’s without the practice of making resolutions for the upcoming year. Hopefully, this will be the year I keep my New Year’s resolutions, but then again, I say that every year and it has yet to happen.
Zoe Herrmann, ‘24
Despite the size of the U.S. along with the variety of winter traditions celebrated, the typical American Christmas meal has remained somewhat similar throughout the years. With few exceptions, the cookies, pies, hams, and eggnog have remained staples of the Christmas celebration since colonial times. But how has the traditional American Christmas meal changed?
The traditional Christmas meal has barely changed between the late 1600s and 1950. This meal often consisted of oysters, meat pies, onion or fish soup, and some kind of fruit cake or pudding. Oysters were a large part of the traditional Christmas meal and were considered a treasure. Crabs, oysters, and varying types of fish were common due to their easy availability, but the presence of fish in the traditional American Christmas meal would dwindle in popularity moving into the 1950s.
Since the 1950s seafood became more popular as a Christmas Eve meal, with the Italian “feast of the seven fishes” and the southern and New England oyster and clam traditions. In addition to seafood, goose, lamb, ham, turkey, and the occasional partridge were commonly served for the Christmas meal. From the late 1600s to the 1950s, mass immigration greatly impacted Christmas traditions. Though the Germans are often credited with most American Christmas traditions, Italian and British cultures also contributed. In fact, the common Christmas tradition of spiked eggnog was a tradition in England, though American colonists began adding rum, with George Washington having his own popular spiked eggnog recipe. Though these were all common meals from the 1680s to the 1950s, meals were often based on what the family had access to. The traditional meal for the average family was much simpler during the Revolutionary and Civil War, and the decadent meal of seafood, elaborate meats, and pies was reserved only for the elite class.
In the 1950s, the automated candy cane machine was created, and it was one of the inventions that highlighted the changes that would occur in the traditional American Christmas menu. After the 1950s, the varied Christmas dinners of seafood and assorted meats were abandoned for a more store-bought Christmas. The American Christmas dinner now mirrored the traditional thanksgiving meal: turkey, ham, green beans, potatoes, stuffing, pudding, cake, and some seasonal drink. The 1960s also introduced the beginning of dishes specific to the decade including, broccoli casserole (popularized in the 50s), Tutti-frutti Tortoni (introduced in the 70s), and Beer-Cheese Pinecones (common in the 80s). The more commercialized and store-bought Christmas maintained the traditional thanksgiving-like meals and added the easily accessible manufactured foods which continue to be common today, such as store-bought Christmas cookies and gingerbread. The 1970s and 80s introduced simpler and less traditionally Christmas meals such as Tricolor Pizza, hot cheddar puffs, and cheese fondue.
Though the traditional American Christmas dinner changes considerably depending on the region (many southerners still celebrate with oysters just like the colonists) , the majority of the customary Christmas meals have stayed the same. Whether or not your family celebrates Christmas, try one of these traditional Christmas dishes this year during winter break!
Lauren Lucy Caddell, '23
As we return to school after break, several questions remain on everyone’s minds. Is there a second/third/fourth pandemic occurring? Are we going to relive March 2020? Will the schools shut down, and, almost as important, should they shut down?
It is a well-known fact that we’re all sick of COVID-19. In fact, when considering the topic of this article, I at first was inclined to stay away from the topic of the virus in order to avoid having to say the word COVID in a sentence. I would be the first to admit that I’m in a constant half-state of denial of the pandemic’s continued existence, even when one million cases have been recorded in the past week in the US alone. Perhaps I’m only being optimistic, but the situation doesn’t seem to be quite so drastic as it was when this whole ordeal began.
There are many factors that contribute to my belief that NCS and STA have no good reason to close school and resume classes online. For one, our current situation is much unlike it was previously. Although we were, of course, concerned for our own safety, it wasn’t ourselves we had to be worried about. Our grandparents and senior citizens, children, and babies were the ones at risk. Among constant reports of deaths and hospitalizations were some number of older and younger people with compromised immune systems, but the majority of those who were truly impacted were either very young or very old. Now many of those who were formerly at risk no longer have as much to worry about thanks to the vaccinations that have swept the nation. The US has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and with the recent approval of the shot for younger children, even the Lower Schoolers at both schools have been gaining protection.
At the beginning of COVID-19, people theorized the idea of herd immunity, where enough of the population gets the virus that eventually it runs out of people to infect. It sounded like a joke until we started hearing about dozens of people that we knew all getting the virus at once, especially within the past couple weeks at school. It was terrifying at first – how could we contact trace when contacts, it seemed, were everywhere? But then the friend we knew would quarantine after testing positive, feel sick for a couple days, and be back at school in another few days. At some point, although COVID still felt like a threat, I began seeing it as mostly inevitable. Either I get sick or I don’t (and the chances are high that I will), but what can I realistically do about it without becoming a hermit and refusing to see or talk to anyone? If I get it, I’ll feel sick for a couple days and then hopefully get better and go on with my life. It makes no sense to me that school, a major part of our lives, would simply be put on hold for something like this.
Secondly, the symptoms for the new Omicron variant, even for those who catch it having not had the booster shot, are nowhere near as drastic as those of the original strain. Although the variant is much more contagious than prior strains and now accounts for around 73% of all current COVID cases, its symptoms have been described by officials as no worse than those of the common cold. Schools have never closed due to a flu outbreak. We get vaccinated for the flu every fall and we accept that some of us will get it during the winter. It’s unpleasant, but not so terrible that it necessitates a return to Zoom classes. Because even though many students like to say that getting up two minutes before their first class in the morning sounds better than wearing masks for nine hours a day, the switch to virtual would hit us hard mentally and socially. Just like two years ago, we won’t realize how much we have until we lose it.
Lastly, where we are in the school year makes the idea of going virtual even more consequential. The March 2020 shift impacted our school year so much that many of us can no longer really remember much of what we learned or did in that last quarter. Our fear of what was going on in the world, the distraction of being at home all the time, and our restlessness contributed to a common conviction that school was mostly just a side effect of this time, or even that it barely happened at all. While that may have been justified for the time we were living in then, we should no longer have to drop everything simply because there is yet another variant that hasn’t proved itself worse than even the flu. As the Upper School heads into January exam season and the prospect of online exams looms, the decision of whether or not to go virtual becomes even more important. Many of us suffered through online exams last year and we know exactly how this decision would negatively impact our test-taking. Although there is still a chance that we may have to go back to the extreme measures we thought we left behind, it is my belief that such measures would be unnecessary.
Stephanie Dragoi, ‘24
Decorative lights are one of the most ubiquitous hallmarks of the Christmas season, illuminating houses, shops, restaurants, and boulevards across the nation and world. The sudden radiance that floods cold winter nights has a surprisingly recent history as well as less cheerful present effects.
The use of light to celebrate Christmas goes back to the holiday’s religious roots, and symbolizes Christ being the “light of the world” (John 9:5). Decorating for Christmas with lights was first popularized in 18th-century Germany, when candles were attached to Christmas trees with melted wax. Eventually, candle holders were designed for Christmas trees, but the fire hazard of this decoration clearly created a necessity for a better electrical solution. Edward H. Johnson, vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, answered this demand, decorating his Christmas tree with 80 hand-wired red, white, and blue lights, and earning the enviable title of “Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights.” After Grover Cleveland used electrical Christmas lights to decorate the White House Christmas Tree in 1895, indoor decorative lights grew in popularity, mostly among wealthier Americans. By 1905, these colorful lights began to be used outside as well, and soon, strings of small incandescent bulbs adorned houses, businesses, streetlamps, and even skyscrapers.
After many Americans forwent their Christmas lights in support of World War II efforts, mass suburbanization accompanied the nation’s reinvigorated enthusiasm for these cheerful decorations. After living in darkness, fear, and loss for so long, Christmas lights were a symbol of hope and joy for the nation. During the pandemic winter of 2020, holiday lights served a similar purpose, as decorating with and admiring them became a popular COVID-safe activity that helped bring smiles to people’s faces, and for many, served as a sign of solidarity.
The visual impact of these Christmas decorations goes beyond communities on Earth into outer space—NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite data has recorded an up to 50% increase in the light intensity of US cities from space. The greatest change was observed not in densely populated urban areas, but in small towns and suburbs with many single-family homes and plenty of lawn space for lights. The brightness of American suburbs tells a story of economic progress and opportunity. The ability of so many Americans to afford these lights, in contrast to when they were first popularized, is a sign of how the U.S. economy has matured. Hiring contractors to install lavish light displays is becoming an increasingly popular service, reflecting the rise of the service industry and of aesthetic professions, which create valuable jobs as they become increasingly important to future economic development.
Unfortunately, in today’s modern world, holiday lights also serve as a symbol for pronounced energy inequality. In America today, more than 150 million holiday light sets are sold each year, illuminating 80 million households and yet accounting for only about 0.2% of the nation’s electrical usage each December. The United States expends more than 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity on holiday lights alone each year, more than the total national energy consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador (5.3 billion kwH), Tanzania (4.8 billion kwH), and Cambodia (3.0 billion kwH). Entire suburbs decked out in holiday lights are something Americans definitely take for granted, but many developing countries lack sufficient energy to power household refrigerators and create essential jobs in the energy sector.
Another hidden difficulty behind Christmas lights comes with recycling them. Because they are wired as series electrical circuits, one faulty bulb usually makes the whole string of lights unusable. More than 20 million pounds of discarded Christmas lights are shipped to Shijiao, China, now labeled as the “world capital for recycling Christmas lights,” each year. Up until recently, these lights were burned to collect the copper wire inside them, releasing toxic gases into the air. In contrast to the colorful radiance of American suburbs, the skies of Shijiao were filled with dark clouds of fumes. Today, the wires’ coatings are more safely ground up, and some residents have found innovative ways to reuse them, such as turning them into rubber soles for slippers. While more American cities and manufacturers are trying to recycle Christmas lights locally, there is simply less of a market for rubber and plastic in the U.S., again often leading to unfortunate environmental effects because of their use in power plants.
So, while holiday lights are always appreciated as a beautiful symbol for the spirit of Christmas, their larger significance is not often recognized. Eliminating our colorful Christmas bulbs is not the solution—they’ve become an important part of our communities, traditions, and even our economy. However, remembering the wider implications of these decorations serves as a valuable reminder of our responsibility as a nation, which carries far beyond the strings of bulbs on our porches and lawns.
Aleeza Rasheed, '24
I used to tell people that the most interesting fact about me was that I have never, ever, celebrated Christmas. I would thrive in the spotlight after captivating my class’ attention every time I shared my “fun fact.” I’ve always embraced Islam as major facet of my unique identity. However, I’ve come to realize that when it comes to this holiday season, my family isn’t so unique at all. While our traditions aren’t conventional or standard, we never fail to recognize this season as one of joy and company.
To commence the holiday season, we embark on our annual neighborhood drive, slowly passing each house in the neighborhood and admiring their holiday decorations. Whether it’s candles lit in window sills illuminating a house’s exterior or a magnificent blow-up reindeer staked out in a front yard, we take the time to appreciate each and every home embellishment put up in light of the holidays. My grandfather has always been the greatest admirer of holiday lights in the family. Without exception, he manages to install some sort of festive decoration around his house every year. Whenever I see him, we always bond over our awe for the beautiful decorations we’ve seen.
My family even carries some of these holiday decorating traditions into our own holidays. Every Ramadan we pull out a plastic wreath, accessorized with glittery silver and gold paper stars and crescent moons, and we hang it on our front door. We string lines of small lanterns across every hallway and tie paper stars to every window facing the front of the house. These traditions fully encompass our love for the holiday season and our appreciation for our own Islamic holidays.
During the weeks surrounding Christmas, my family and I go on a skiing trip. Every year, we check off a new ski resort from our list. A typical Christmas day in our family feels like any other ordinary day, with the added bonus of being on winter break. We enjoy being in each others’ company and spend most of the day on new ski slopes. While Christmas or Hanukkah might not mark important holidays in our lives, my family and I never miss the chance to take advantage of everyone being off from school and work. We spend the holiday season appreciating the joy and company we share together.
The best part of my “fun fact,” as declared by my friends, is that in addition to not celebrating Christmas, I can never remember its actual date. I always falsely assume its date changes, like many Islamic holidays, as opposed to occurring on the same fixed date every year. Islam follows the lunar calendar, making all our holidays lie on the same date every lunar year but a different one every solar year. But now, after having lived through sixteen Christmases, I can confidently assure you that Christmas lies on December 25th every year…right?
Img credit: https://blog.contactpigeon.com/christmas-marketing-strategy/
Katie Jordan, ‘24
The excitement on campus grows as winter break approaches, and it’s common to see students discussing break plans while simultaneously complaining about upcoming tests. As you leave your last class, you may hear teachers say to have a restful break. While this sentiment is nice, the reality is that although no homework is explicitly given (aside from AP classes), students are expected to study for their upcoming exams if they want to do well. The stress and anticipation leading up to the impending exams means that we don’t actually have an opportunity to rest.
While online school was hard for many, one aspect that was popular was having Wednesday at home. It effectively acted as a day to sleep in, catch up on homework, and rest. While I don’t think a day off of every week would be sustainable for our current schedule, I do think that one day off per month would be a viable option. I propose that we have the first Wednesday of the month off, which would be planned into the schedule so teachers could schedule lessons around it. This would be an opportunity for everyone on campus to take a break, and hopefully for us to come back more ready and able to engage fully in school.
This proposed day off would also help decrease the amount of stress that students constantly experience, which could help people currently facing mental health challenges. Although the school has made valiant attempts at improving the mental health services that they offer, I’ve often heard that it is not enough, and students are still struggling. Although the school is not directly responsible for the mental health of its students, school related stresses and pressure are one of the leading causes of mental health issues in the student body. Giving us one day off per month would allow us to take a breath and distance ourselves from schoolwork, hopefully alleviating some of the stress that leads to mental health issues.
I think one day a month off is a good start, but I also think the school also needs to do even more for its students’ mental health. I’m engaged in many extracurricular activities, from the play to being a chorister, so I have after-school commitments that take time away from homework. I’ve heard from my teachers and advisors that I should know that my extracurriculars are a large time commitment, but I still think that the school should be more accommodating of students that have these commitments. NCS preaches that they encourage students to pursue their passions through clubs and extracurriculars, but when a student asks for more time on assignments to do that, teachers can be reluctant to grant extensions. Teachers in general need to be more forgiving of their students and open to granting extensions for valid reasons–even if that reason is just that the student is struggling to complete all of their assignments on time due to mental health concerns, and they need more time.
There is a great penalty for missing school, so much so students are reluctant to stay home when sick. This was a concern before COVID, but it’s especially important now. If students do miss school, they have a ton of work to catch up on, which adds to their stress levels. Even if teachers add the option for extensions or missed work due to mental health breaks or sickness, students will still feel overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to make up. I think that the school needs to make it easier for students to complete work, so they feel comfortable taking needed breaks without feeling like they will be swamped when they return.
NCS needs to do better in addressing the mental health concerns of their students. Although one Wednesday off per month is a start, the school still must do more, starting with listening to the needs of their students and making changes accordingly.
Img credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/information-overload-gm1242127315-36276810
Holden Lombardo, '23
Over the last century, Christmas—the most fundamental and essential Christian holiday—has expanded into the secular sphere. Yet, the holiday has never been a purely Christian celebration. Most people trace the origins of Christmas to the birth of Jesus. However, many Christmas traditions appeared hundreds of years before the Nativity story, exposing the non-Christian roots of the holiday. From as early as 3,000 B.C during the Bronze Age, humans have observed the winter solstice, the day in late December with the least daylight hours. In certain regions, people of the Bronze Age celebrated the solstice with one last feast before the harsh winter months that often led to famine and death. In other areas of the world, the solstice symbolized the end of the coldest winter days and a cause for celebration. Additionally, many civilizations marked the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, as a new birth of the sun gods in the coming months. Therefore, themes of birth and light, essential to modern-day Christmas, predated Christianity and originated with solstice traditions.
Multiple other non-Christian traditions inspired and influenced Christmas. In Europe, late December offered the freshest meat, since many farmers slaughtered their cattle, so they would not need to feed the animals in the brutal winter. Furthermore, wine and beer finally finished fermentation during late December in time for the feasts. In other regions of Europe, the Germanic festival of Yule extended from the winter solstice to the end of December. Celebrated in central Europe and Scandinavia, Yule commemorated the Norse god Odin. With the spread of Christianity in the Middle Ages, many Pagan traditions from Yule later transferred onto Christmas. For instance, during Yule, the Germanic people believed Odin flew over their houses at night to decide if they should be rewarded or punished. Not only Santa Claus, but also the Yule log and Yule singing are now central elements of modern Christmas, or—another name for the Christian holiday—Yuletide. In Ancient Rome, late December included many festivities and holidays: Saturnalia honored the god of Agriculture, Juvenalia celebrated the children of Rome, and December 25 marked the birth of the sun-god Mithra. However, Christianity soon spread throughout the Roman Empire.
In the beginning years of Christianity, Easter was the predominant holiday of the new religion. The Bible pointed to no exact date for the birth of Christ, and the text suggests that the nativity most likely took place in spring, but Pope Julius I chose December 25 to be Christmas Day. He chose late December because the date aligned with many other Pagan holidays, including Saturnalia and the winter solstice celebrations. Christmas gained popularity as Christianity spread, since church services, feasts, and celebrations already occurred in late December. However, the coexistence of Christmas and other holidays during the same time caused the major influence of Pagan traditions on the Christian holiday.
Due to Puritan beliefs against festivities, Christmas was not a significant holiday in early America and did not gain prominence until the 19th century, when, in 1819, the author Washington Irving wrote The Sketch Book, a collection of stories about Christmas. The stories centered more on customs of kindness, sharing, and compassion rather than religious ideas. Of course, the moral values of Christmas originated with Christian ideals. However, in America, a nation dedicated to religious freedom, Christmas increasingly separated from its Christian origins and gained a greater association with secular moral values.
Throughout the 20th century, Christmas rapidly spread to non-Christian and non-religious communities as a celebration of family and life. Today, anyone can celebrate Christmas. Anyone can put a tree in their house. Anyone can hang ornaments from their tree. Anyone can wear Christmas clothes. Anyone can eat Christmas dinner. Anyone can listen to Christmas music. Anyone can give Christmas presents to those they love. Because Christmas is a menagerie, a fusion of traditions and cultures, an amalgamation of ideas, a story, a day, a season, a feeling that brings everyone together. Because for thousands of years, humans have celebrated the last cold, dark days of December with warmth and light, and so we will, for thousands more.
Jack Marino, '23
Throughout the lockdown period of the pandemic and last year’s zoom school, teachers looked for creative ways to test their students while preventing cheating and maintaining the school’s reputation for academic rigor. Almost every teacher allowed notes on assessments, but they needed to find a way to mitigate the effects of (especially disorganized) notes. Thus, teachers turned to test timing: tests were made shorter in order to force students to prepare for them, and many teachers turned to timed writing assessments with notes available. Students could prepare for these assignments by writing essay outlines and organizing their notes to best answer possible assessment questions, allowing them to simply rewrite their notes as an answer to assessment questions. However, after the pandemic, the short assessment timeframe remained without the aid of notes, forcing students to have to go through the process of analyzing the assessment question without organized notes or an outline.
The premise of my argument rests on the idea that the goal of assessments is to test a student’s knowledge, analytical, or problem-solving skills on a certain subject, rather than test a student’s ability to regurgitate as much information as possible within an excessively short timeframe. Sadly, the return to testing at St. Albans has been marked by attention to speed rather than knowledge because teachers are expecting students to complete the same amount of work as they did during the lockdown in the same timeframe without the use of notes. Since the return to testing, I have found myself scrambling to complete a 3-4 paragraph essay within fifteen minutes, I have left questions completely unanswered because time runs out on several tests, and I find myself consistently misreading and misanalyzing questions as a result of time pressure. When looking through my assessments this semester, there were multiple classes where I lost the majority of my points due to an insufficient amount of time on tests. How is this conducive to the learning process?
Many of my readers may be wondering why I wouldn’t just apply for extra time in order to get a sufficient amount of time on tests, but the process is not that simple. Earlier this year, I tried to apply for extra time, but I was told that teachers hadn’t been concerned about my ability to finish tests on time because I was doing well in most of my classes. I don’t think I have the slower processing speed that I would need to apply for extra time, but I have noticed that a large number of students have complained about the amount of time given to finish assessments this year, suggesting that much of the student body is under the same time pressure that I am. This would also explain the fact that teachers didn’t single me out as having trouble completing tests on time: because most students are having trouble completing tests on time. I often hear students struggling to finish tests on time say that they should get extra time, but the purpose of extra time is not to give students a sufficient amount of time to finish tests because students should already have a sufficient amount of time to finish tests.
In the end, the purpose of tests is to reinforce the learning process by challenging students’ skills and knowledge rather than work speed under pressure. There is no future benefit to learning how to write a low-quality 4 paragraph essay in 15 minutes, but there is a benefit to learning how to use key analytical skills to answer challenging questions. Therefore, with the midterms approaching, I encourage teachers to examine the amount of time they give students for assessments and whether this amount of time allows students to do their best work and to allow students to take the extra five or ten minutes they need to finish their exams regardless of whether they have extra time or not.