Whitman implements “Brain Break Vacation”


Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Sydney Miller

Principal Robert Dodd sent an email to all teachers Dec. 11 announcing that teachers will not be allowed to assign homework over winter break, have projects due or give unit tests on Jan 4-6. The email also announced that there will be a homework-free President’s Day weekend.

Last year, Goodwin instated a homework-free weekend after multiple school tragedies in November. After receiving positive feedback about that policy, Dodd decided to implement a similar policy for break this year. His pitch to the staff leadership team was met with positive reactions, he said.

“I would love everybody to get a full shutdown from school,” Dodd said. “You can leave here on Friday and not have to worry about coming back to a test or project, that you can spend time with friends or family during the winter break, and totally enjoy it without anything hanging over students and staff’s heads.”

In an informal survey of 85 students across freshman, sophomore and senior grades, almost 80 said they were happy with the announcement and feel that it will make winter break more enjoyable.

“Especially as a junior, I feel like I really need a break,” junior Adrian Knappertz said. “With three AP classes, I’ve had a lot on my plate, so knowing I can spend all of break not worrying about anything that’s not due immediately after makes me feel like I can actually relax and enjoy winter break.”

Most of Knappertz’s teachers have embraced the policy and have pushed back assignment due dates. However, other students—especially upperclassmen—feel overwhelmed because all the work has been pushed to either before break or the Friday after break.

“I hate it because all of my teachers are pushing assignments to be due this Thursday or the Friday [after break],” senior Anna Koretsky said. “It’s really solving no problems because I have to work on things all this week or I have to work on assignments over break, because I can’t do it all in the three days we have after we get back.”

Part of the reason teachers might be cramming work in before the break is because this policy was announced only two weeks before break, and most teachers had their semester schedule planned for months now, English teacher Ryan Derenberger said. Other teachers already planned to give their students less homework over break, and the new policy didn’t change much for their classes.

“I kind of subscribe to that policy already, so if you look at my plan for the semester, I didn’t really have any major assignments due after break,” English teacher Todd Michaels said.