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Editorial: Palmer Ridge staff and students deserve a fall break

A short break in late October would have immense benefits for all members of the school

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By the time Thanksgiving break rolls around every year, Palmer Ridge staff and students have been in class for roughly three months straight. This stretch contains just three days off for students and just two days off for teachers.
Therefore, it is time for Palmer Ridge to join a growing number of schools along the front range and institute a fall break. Before you get too excited, it should be noted that next year’s calendar is already planned, so the break would not be instituted until fall of the 2018-2019 school year. In layman’s terms this means that only the freshman and sophomore classes, and of course every class following them, will be able to enjoy the break.
Fortunately, this break could soon become a reality. Mr. Gabel is taking part in the early planning phases of implementing a fall break, and so far it is looking like a real possibility. It’s rather unlikely that a fall break would be a week long without having to lengthen the academic year. However, there is a distinct possibility that it could be a four day weekend.
This scenario would avoid making the academic year longer because according to Mr. Gabel, “We start so early as it is.” In that case, the school would just need to find two days that students already have off throughout the school year and move them to a Thursday and Friday or possibly a Friday and Monday.
One of these days could be picked up at the end of winter break when there are two teacher work days before students come back to school. This year, these days are on Jan. 5 and 6. Mr. Gabel speculates that the second day for the four day weekend could be picked up sometime in May.
The most complicated piece in the process of getting a break approved is going through the district. Each year, the calendar committee proposes a calendar proposal to the school board that contains a plan for the entire district. A proposal for the 2018-2019 school year would contain a suggestion from school administrators to include a fall break. This calendar would then appear before the school board for approval.
Most promising is that school board president Mark Pfoff is confident that the change could be made. He emphasized that the schedule modification would come through the administrators at the high schools, and that administration support is, at least early on, clearly present.
Mr. Pfoff’s biggest concern about the implementation of a fall break would be guaranteeing that the first semester would still fit in before winter break. This would be especially important for students at the two high school in District 38 because if the semester could not end before winter break, then finals would have to take place, at least partially, at the beginning of January. Ensuring that this doesn’t happen is a primary concern of the calendar committee and the school board every year.
The break is clearly feasible, so why should we do it? Beyond the obvious that it would simply make staff and students happier, a brief respite from the stress of school would likely have a plethora of benefits for members of the PR family.
Among other things, Forbes reports that time off leads to “higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits.” While most of these would benefit both staff and students, the a fall break would almost certainly be most advantageous for teachers; this is what has Mr. Gabel most excited. Even though it would be students that would talk about the break the most, it is the teachers that fall break would be designed for.
Teachers would likely be even more effective in their work and students would be able to work harder if they saw a reprieve on the horizon. So, that paper due just before break would hopefully be that much better, and it would likely be graded that much sooner. If not for the students, then fall break needs to be implemented for the teachers, who get just two days off in the academic calendar all of August, September and October.
A fall break would increase productivity for both staff and students, would increase school morale, and best of all, could be implemented without lengthening the school year on either end. It has the support of the Palmer Ridge administration and simply needs to be brought to the attention of the D38 calendar committee.
Now, it is up to students and teachers to express their support and encourage the school board to make the change.

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The student news site of Palmer Ridge High School
Editorial: Palmer Ridge staff and students deserve a fall break