The month of December can be associated by students and teachers alike with winter break. This break has to consist of having both Christmas and New Years off.
This year, students’ last day of school is Dec. 21, and they return on Jan. 2, the day after New Years. That’s 11 days of no school, including weekends.
Junior Riley Mortenson is somewhat indifferent to the length of winter break, as long as it’s time off from school. “Once it’s over it’ll seem really short,” she said.
An important significance of winter break besides having holidays off, Mortenson believes, is having time to visit family. During the break she too visits her family.
Having families getting together is a tradition English teacher Nicholas Jackson also has. “It is important for rest, repose, and maintaining relationships between family and friends,” he said.
Jackson doesn’t believe that having a short winter break is necessarily a bad thing. “It is just another year. I don’t worry too much about the days off during winter break. The full week off is nice, and I do like a longer summer,” he said.
School Board member Cindy Elsbernd, a new Board member since September, also believes a shorter winter break has to do with a longer summer. ”I do notice that the school year ends in May and in years past it has ended in June,” she said.
Elsbernd does not have direct affect on the length of winter break. It is decided by an advisory committee of staff, administration, the Des Moines Education Association (the teacher’s union), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (the union for other school workers) and parent representatives, who submit the plan to the board for approval.
Another topic that varies in opinions is the subject of New Years. To some, New Years is not a big holiday, but to others it holds great significance.
Mortenson is one of those who doesn’t care much about New Years, but to her school should still be out on Jan. 1. It’s still a holiday, and she believes we should still have it off so winter break will be longer.
Jackson’s view is a bit different. “Teacher’s are adults and people, so having New Year’s off is important for the same reason that Spring Break falls during the week of St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.
Why? For headaches mainly, he said.
Mortenson said most students opinions are that winter break needs to be longer, and teachers opinions are probably similar. Jackson, speaking from a teacher’s point of view, believes students should have more of an ambivalent attitude than joyful, because with a longer winter break comes a shorter summer vacation.
As for what he believes teachers feel towards winter breaks, he cannot speak for them all. “But teachers are human, and we all like time off,” he said.
Mortenson doesn’t look to summer vacation like Jackson, she just wants time off from school. Coming back on Jan. 2 is the worst part for her, only because it means coming back to school.
Whether the opinions of Mortenson and Jackson are a majority or not cannot be said, but both opinions hold credibility. Mortenson’s opinion leans more towards living in the moment, while Jackson looks to the future.
What can be said is winter break is definitely shorter. Having 11 days off may not be as much as some hope, but having a longer summer may be better for some.