A student’s story

Winter break

It’s that time of year again. The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. Presents are being opened, time is being spent with family and friends and kids everywhere are ecstatic to be home from school. For the students at Hughesville High School, today isn’t just Christmas, but the first full day of their holiday break.

The East Lycoming School District’s last day of school was a half day on Friday. Many of the public schools around the country had similar schedules, with most starting winter vacation around the same day. Students wait all year for this pause from working diligently for nearly five months, but winter break isn’t as long as some people think.

In reality, students are only receiving slightly more than a week off school in order to celebrate the holidays. For example, the student body at Hughesville with return to class on Jan. 2, giving them only seven and a half missed school days. So why does it seem so long?

In accordance with the Pennsylvania State Code Section 11.1 (22 PA. CODE 11.1), schools are, by law, required to have class 180 days of the year, leaving 185 days per year for students to not have school. Summer vacation for Hughesville in 2017 lasted from June 2 until Aug. 24 for a total of 83 days. This leaves 102 days without classes during the school year, including weekends. Once we take the 40 weekends (80 days total counting Saturdays and Sundays) which occur from Aug. 24 to June 2 away from those 102 days, we are left with 22 days that students truly have off school during the actual school year. So Christmas break feels so long for students, despite it truly only being a week, because it makes up a third of their total vacation time between August and June.

When we compare this to breaks had by college students, we see a mass difference. The average winter break for college students is anywhere from three to four weeks. That alone nearly matches up to the entirety of days off held by public high school students. In addition, college students have a week long spring break and as well as ending the school year earlier than high school students. Additionally, while college students have just finished their courses for the semester, high school students are usually only halfway through theirs, meaning they will most likely have homework over break.

Some private schools follow the same schedule, giving their students more time off than public schools since they do not have to follow the state mandate.

The question that arises is, which institution is doing things right? Should we be giving students more frequent breaks from their studies? Should we continue to provide short, intermittent pauses with a long summer one? We may not know which is best for our youth, but we do know that students everywhere are happy to be home once more.

Thompson is a senior at Hughesville High School. Her column is published on the second and fourth Mondays of each month in the Education section. She can be reached at education@­ sungazette.com.