by Luis Contreras
Every student appreciates Round-Up holidays, Christmas and Spring break, teacher in-services and national holidays. A day off from school is widely thought of as better than a weekend.
This year, those days off number in the dozens, giving students an impressive number of breaks.
According to Texas state law, schools need to have a minimum of 180 days of school in a year. St. Thomas has planned for exactly 180 days.
Some would argue that this limits the ability of the students to learn all the material necessary in a high school curriculum. But both students and teachers alike know that with the right work ethic, it is possible to take those days off and still achieve a high quality education.
“It does pose a challenge as far as scheduling,” social studies teacher Grover Green said. “But it’s nice for both the students and teachers. We just have to make sure we take advantage of the days off and not get behind.”
That is a lot easier said than done. According to senior Junior Carrera, it is impossible to actually do anything productive.
“The days off always turn into some excellent bro-downs,” says Carrera. “We say we’ll go study together, but we just go out and have a good time.”
Students and parents feel that the year’s schedule is nicer and shorter than usual, allowing for more days to “rage our faces off”.
According to Assistant Principal Chris Westman, however, there are not any less school days this year than in years past.
“We really didn’t lose any school days,” said Westman. “They’re just rearranged.”
This reorganization is the result of several new in-services and events sprinkled throughout the year. One such event is the National Catholic Education Association Convention.
“This year, because the NCEA Convention is in Houston on the first week of April, all Catholic high school teachers in Houston are required to go,” Westman said. “[So] we can’t have school those days. What we did was we took away three other in-service days and had school on those days [instead].”
Even though the days are made up, the big chunk of days off in the spring creates a kind of double spring break.
In mid-March, students will receive the traditional week off for spring break.
At the beginning of April, students will have three days off on the same week as Easter Monday and the first Friday off for Round-Up, resulting in another full week off.
This, combined with the Round-Up holidays in April create the shortest couple of months most students have ever seen.
Another reason for the big number of breaks is the early start to the school year.
Since the year was kicked off earlier than usual, the school can afford to spread out holidays throughout the year.
In mid-October, for example, there was a three-day week for seniors that most schools can only dream of.
The schedule is undoubtedly a favorite of students and teachers alike. The time to rest is welcomed and deserved by all.
Westman said, however, that it never affects the policy of providing the best academics in Houston.
“St.Thomas is committed to giving students the best academic education possible,” Westman said. “Our program is more challenging than a lot of other schools. A week here at St. Thomas involves more student learning than a week at many other schools.”
The school surely sits atop the list of Houston elite high schools in education but also has the best schedule in town, resulting in a great blend for students.