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.
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