Shavuot disrupts final exams

Mischa Trainor, Reporter

The schedule for high school final exams has changed this year due to Shavuot falling during what is typically the week of finals. The administration created a schedule with the goal of ensuring that all students, regardless of religious observance,
have the necessary time to study for exams. This year, school ends on a Wednesday. Thursday is a study day followed by the English final on Friday. Sunday and Monday are Shavuot, and since the holiday means there can be only limited studying for observant Jews, Tuesday is a study day before finals resume. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the history, science and math finals, respectively.

Typically, classes end on a Friday and the week of finals follows. The next week, there are usually exams on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with a study day on Wednesday.

“Just looking at how the breakdown of [the finals schedule] is, think given where Shavuot falls and the rest of the school calendar, I think it makes sense. There is an additional study day for students who observe Shavuot so no one loses a day of studying,” Director of Jewish Life Stephanie Hoffman said. “I think given all the factors, it makes the most sense, which doesn’t mean that it is easy.”

The administration attempted to compensate for those who observe Shabbat and Shavuot by . providing a study day after Shavuot before the history exam. However, students who observe Shabbat and Shavuot are prevented from writing or using technology for three straight days.

“I think it’s a little difficult for people who [observe Shabbat] and [observe Shavuot] because yes, we might be able to print out history notes or science notes, but I can’t practice for math because I can’t write,” freshman Eliana Mannes said.

Mannes would prefer that the math exam takes place first because she wants to be able to complete practice problems to prepare for the exam. The exams currently take place in the order of which take the longest time to grade to help teachers.

The history exam also falls on the fifth grade Siyyum, their graduation service, as opposed to previous years, when the study day fell on Siyyum. This will make it difficult for students who have siblings in fifth grade to attend the ceremony. The administration also had to make sure final exams could be completed without ending classes too early. Students have to be in school for enough days to fulfill the state requirement, according to Dean of Students Roslyn Landy, and this new schedule already causes classes to end two school days early [compared to last year].

“I think it is unfortunate that Shavuot falls when it does, given the school calendar,” Hoffman said. “…I think that the way the exam schedule was created given where Shavuot falls … makes sense.”

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 6 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on May 23, 2019.