Each student has a unique opinion on the things they experience at school, with personal complaints and accolades often becoming more amplified as the year wraps up and the allure of summer vacation draws closer. In this past year, students at DSHS have experienced numerous changes, including a revolutionary shift to block scheduling and the construction of a massive new athletics stadium. Established policies have made their mark as well, with each factor contributing to the opinions that students hold about their education.

High school creates a lot of stress for both students and teachers, but it all comes to a head at the end of the year with the pressure of final exams and the preparation that surrounds them. Everyone has their own ways of dealing with this, but some are more effective than others.

“This year I am choosing not to worry too much about finals,” sophomore Christian Pundt said. “I’ve found that worrying and stressing tends to make my grades go down and make myself feel worse overall. I am just studying for a few hours for each class to cover my bases.”

Unfortunately, the process of concluding school is often complicated by the separate schedules that exist from teacher to teacher that usually conflict in the average class schedule. Test scores often reflect this fact, with disparities in class performance (due to inconsistencies between periods) demonstrating faulty and unfair planning.

“I wish teachers would start final reviews all at the same time,” sophomore Anna Faivre said. “I’m reviewing in the majority of my classes, but there are a select few where we’re still going full speed ahead with our normal routines.”

It’s generally agreed that most teachers adequately prepare students for their final exams, with massive review packets and classes devoted to going over old material quite commonplace. The effectiveness of these techniques usually relies on each student to use the resources provided to them, however, each must engage directly in the process to retain the information being presented. Unfortunately, quality is not always consistent.

“There are teachers who give good studying tools, but the ones who don’t really mess me up when it comes to working in that specific field,” sophomore Carsten Brennan said.

Most students at the middle school, high school, and college level of education accept final exams as the only way to conclude the semester, but a surprising number fundamentally disagree with the concept of taking one, heavily-weighted test that can make or break your grades regardless of previous performance.

“I agree that there should be a way to evaluate our knowledge of the subject matter, but tests are not that way,” sophomore James Bartling said.

Finals this year will also test the practicality of block scheduling, a new system of organizing classes implemented for the first time this year. It allows for more time to complete homework and longer class periods, but also allows for more procrastination by students than previously possible. Most people like it though, and consider the system to be more convenient and less stressful than the old standard seven period day.

“Coming from a middle school in Virginia that had block schedule, I personally love it,” freshman Jack Dombrowski said. “Period scheduling is complex, and homework is limited to the one night you have to do it. Most of all, you can learn more content on the block schedule.”

Success on any test requires preparation of some kind, so for most students, review dominates the last few weeks of school. Each has their own way of retaining subject matter, which ranges from simply reading over material to taking practice tests online. Because of these differences, standardized study techniques usually work with varying degrees of success.

“I believe that the average test review, consisting of fill-in-the-blank definitions and practice questions, is the most efficient way of test reviewing,” freshman Owen Craddock said.

Regardless of all these factors and variations, the common goal of attaining high test scores links each and every high school student. When all preparation is complete, the only thing standing between school and vacation are a few final exams. There’s no sense in letting internal pressures degrade performance. The greatest obstacles to students are often themselves, so a bit of relaxation can go a long way.

“Lots of people worry about grades so much because of this slippery slope, thinking that if they don’t have phenomenal grades now then they somehow won’t get accepted to college,” Pundt said. “I’ll let that stand for itself. I think most people would be a lot happier short- and long-term if they spend more time trying to make themselves happy and less stressed.”

Written by Willie Johnson