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Semester exams cancelled in wake of Hurricane Harvey

Connor McGovern '19, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, September 6th, students returned to school for the first time after a 12 day hiatus caused by Hurricane Harvey. It was then they received the news over the morning announcements that final exams have been canceled for the fall semester.

During Hurricane Harvey, students missed 7 days of class. To make up for the time lost, the administration has decided to have class during the originally scheduled finals week and to have class on Christopher Columbus Day, which was originally scheduled as a teacher in-service day.

“I am relieved that I do not have to worry about the stress of preparing for finals,” junior Gabriel Lenz said. When asked about his opinion of the administration’s decision, junior Theodore Mai responded, “As we saw with the flooding, a lot of good friends of mine lost their homes, textbooks, and homework. Especially with missing all those days of school, I think it would be very hard to catch-up and eventually prepare for a final.”

While this news came as a surprise to the student body, many of the students were excited and relieved by the decision made by the administration. While grateful, the reasons behind the decision are not completely understood.

When questioned in this regard, Vice Principal Mary Criaco responded, “We were looking for ways to make-up the lost instructional time and we felt that it was more important that the instruction was delivered, rather than the final exams.”

“The administration had many meetings as soon as everybody could leave their homes safely, dating back to Wednesday, August 30th, and we toyed with all the different options, including when were we going to start school and what was school going to look like when it started.

We considered taking back (the beginning of) Thanksgiving break, but we worried that families would already have vacations plans, so at the end of the day, it just made sense to take those exams days as instructional days.”

The decision reached, has all three fronts in agreement. The administration, the faculty and staff, and the student body all agree that this decision is in the best interest of the St. Thomas community.

“I am very pleased with the decision. I think it shows a sign of compassion, which is what the St. Thomas community is about as a Catholic school. Putting the importance on the student versus the material. That’s not to say that they’re not receiving the material, that’s still important, but we can alleviate some of the stress” English teacher Claudia Mundell said. “I see it as an advantage. My students are viewing it as an opportunity to finish with a higher grade in each of their classes.”

I think it shows a sign of compassion, which is what the St. Thomas community is about as a Catholic school.”

— Claudia Mundell, English Teacher

Even though the cancellation of finals is viewed as the best decision possible, it does a provide a certain disadvantage for the freshman students of St. Thomas.

“The freshman do not know early-on in their academic career the importance of that 25% exam grade,” says Mrs. Mundell, who teaches a number of freshman English classes.

Vice Principal Criaco continues, “the things that the administration was worried about were having students well-prepared for university and being able to take final exams. We want final exams to be a second-nature to our students and to eliminate any sort of anxiety.” Without these previously scheduled final exams, however, students’ first-semester grade will be made up entirely of the first and second quarter grades, with each representing 50% of the final grade.

As a result of the schedule changes, students now attend class on October 9th (Christopher Columbus Day), which was originally scheduled as a teacher in-service day, and the most of the week of December 18th.

The Friday self-help day and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday final exam days are now full days of class, following the regular block schedule. In light of the amended schedule, it will be imperative for students to be in attendance until Wednesday, December 20th for instructional time and the attendance policy will remain the same as it is for final exams.

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Semester exams cancelled in wake of Hurricane Harvey