Why the DOE Gives Us Breaks

Colin Ozeki, Staff Reporter

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Students of Millennium Brooklyn High School (MBHS) have recently come back from the February winter vacation a few weeks ago. This isn’t the only time students will be going back to a routine of mass-commuting. Vacations happen in several weeks during the school year, some of which have holidays associated with them, and some that have little noteworthy events to the public.

There is even a 2-month long vacation planted in the middle of the year, almost 8 times longer than the recurring week-long vacations. The existence of such vacations may be common knowledge, but the reasoning behind it may not be as common. Why do they happen on the days they do? Why do they exist at all?

There are certain myths floating around that attempt to explain why vacations exist the way they do. One such idea that exists is that summer vacations are in place as a historical relic from back when farming season happened and kids needed to take the days off. “The whole idea of an agrarian calendar makes it sound like it was an unthinking decision but the current school year was really a conscious creation,” said Gold, author of “School’s In: The History of Summer Education in American Public Schools.” While explanations for each individual instance of vacations may be unclear, there are definitively explanations as to why certain theories as to the existence of vacations are not valid.

Kevin Conway, principal of MBHS, has given his insight as to why vacations exist in their current form. “The state government says ‘here’s how much time we want students to spend in school,’ teachers get involved and say “we want teachers to have breaks to spend time with their family and do other things, so a lot of different forces come together… let’s agree to a week off during vacation around holidays like christmas or hannukah, let’s agree to a week off in the spring, they are somewhat arbitrary.”

Conway stated himself that he didn’t have all the answers, but as far as he knew considering the status he was in, he believed that the date wasn’t as important as the frequency, length, and the fact that the days off happened in the first place. In other words, there isn’t much of a reason as to why vacations happen specifically at their designated times. The fact was that many people wanted occasional breaks from their designated work schedules and the vacations were a way to make that wish a reality.

Students have also shared their impressions regarding vacations. Michael Erickson, 12th grader at MBHS, has stated that “Vacations are a good way to keep people motivated, giving them a break from their routine.” The idea behind this statement is that when people go to school, they may develop some amount of stress due to the assignments that are piled onto them. Vacations are suggested to be a way to relieve people of said stress for increased productivity.

Ethan Haines Leblanc, another 12th grader at MBHS, has stated “It is always nice to relax once in awhile. However with vacations like Summer break, I feel it is far too long… It’s a common joke that people  “forget everything” they learned over summer.”

Ethan raised what he thought would be a problem with vacations, that being the idea where vacations may be relieving stress, but at the same time, they may be counterproductive in that they are causing people to forget more rather than give motivation to retain more.

Regardless of whether they are for the better or for worse, vacations as they currently exist are here to stay for many years to come. It may not be a perfect system, but there are people that appreciate the fact that they exist the way they are.

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Why the DOE Gives Us Breaks