48,000 minutes. 800 hours. 100 days. Yes, ladies and gentleman, today, Thursday, Feb. 7, is the 100th day of school (feel free to hold the applause). In elementary school, the day was celebrated by counting 100 balloons, eating 100 jelly beans and making string necklaces with 100 cheerios. Nowadays, the only thing special about the day is…well nothing. The 100th day of school has become a reminder that spring break is only 30 days away, and for the seniors among us the last day of school is just 68 days removed (sorry underclassmen, you guys have 81 days left).
The 100 days zoomed by with a slew of tests, homework, practices, club meetings, field trips, assemblies and lunches. Since Aug. 28, students and teachers alike have been bombarded with work. The glow of the first week, where excited old friends were reunited after a long summer apart, quickly went away and was replaced with the groggy trudge to class each day. The sound of the alarm clock waking us up before the sun each morning leaves us cursing our arrival at school and silently promising ourselves a nap afterschool, which too much homework won't allow us to take. Meanwhile, our elementary school siblings can't get enough of the classroom and are actually glad to spend eight hours each day cooped up in a building many of us equate to prison. My question is why has there been such a big change, as many students have grown to hate school more with the succession of each grade.
Though school may not be the greatest place to go every morning, there's something deeper than the lack of fun that keeps students wary of entering the Student Activity Center (SAC). It's the lack of freedom that we have while on our eight-hour lockdown, the monotony of the everyday climb up the main staircase followed by classes and a forty-five minute reprieve for lunch. Twenty or thirty years ago when our parents were in high school, students had the freedom to take almost anything they wanted. You wouldn't be judged for taking basket weaving, double period gym and at the same time having a half day. But today, the pressure of college admittance makes everyone feel like not taking all AP and honors classes is a bad thing, like it's not okay to have fun in your classes because because school should be all work and no play. Demands to achieve on standardized tests trickling down to the elementary school level means that maybe there won't be 100 day celebrations anymore and moreover that chances to have fun, even as children, are running few and far between.
What would the 2013 spin on the 1990s high school movies look like, where people actually enjoyed going to school and weren't cracking under the stress of work to do? Though open-lunch is an impossibility and changing the system would be a shot in the dark, more field trips, less busy work and additional time to socialize might help us get our work done in class instead of mentally debating the quickest way to get home after the 2:10 p.m. bell. It's not necessary to count balloons or make string necklaces anymore, but a celebration of the 100th day wouldn't kill anybody. After all, we've made it more than halfway through another year. If festivities are too much, I guess I'll have to settle for knowing that spring break and then summer vacation are only a few months away. That realization may be celebration enough.
Mimi Verdonk. More »