Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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Close to water, “senioritis” takes on new meaning

Senioritis may have many so-called “causes” and even a few symptoms, writes Jenny Matute in yesterday’s edition of The Stanwich Post, the student newspaper at the Stanwich School, a private school in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Ocean City, Md. (bayside and oceanside)

“Causes include preparation for graduation, acceptance into college and other external factors like … nice weather,” she writes. “Symptoms include a decline in motivation and performance in class—which can actually be very real.”

Seniors at the school picked a day last month to skip, setting teachers’ minds a little at ease, given the inevitability of a “senior day.”

“The seniors deserve credit for choosing a day at a time of year that made sense,” explained one teacher, who asked to remain anonymous. “No one would suffer academically and it happened to be a 60 degree day!”

That’s thanks to an extremely warm February, the second-warmest in the last 120 or so years, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

At least it gets warm now before summer actually starts.

For next year’s seniors in Maryland, summer may be pushed back even further, thanks to an executive order by Gov Larry Hogan requiring all public schools, except those that had obtained a very limited waiver from the state school board, to start their school year after Labor Day, beginning this fall.

The order has cut the occasional midyear break short. For students in Harford County, like those at Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air, Maryland, where they would typically get the entire week of Thanksgiving off, the mandated change is somewhat welcome.

That begs the question: Given Maryland’s miles and miles of coastline, when, if ever, will “senior day” be next year at a school like Patterson Mill?

One junior at the school told The Patterson Press that having fewer days off during the school year will allow students to “take advantage of the school year” and give them “a longer summer—especially the seniors.” (Seniors typically end their school year a few days before other students, allowing for graduation ceremonies in late May or early June.)

At least one teacher at the high school, however, sees the change as mostly inconsequential though highly politicized.

Janet Breen, who teaches Spanish, says she has no strong opinion about the executive order, because “we’re going to go 180 days no matter what.” And while she appreciates not having an entire week off for Thanksgiving, she also says, “This change is a political thing about teachers’ unions and what they want versus what [state comptroller] Peter Franchot wants to support Ocean City,” reports Emma Cenicacelaya in the student newspaper.

The executive order, which was opposed by the state’s school superintendents but had strong popular support among voters, was largely seen as an attempt to encourage families to spend a few more days in the vacation town of Ocean City during the warm summer before Labor Day and not have to worry about getting ready for school in August every summer.

“Maryland isn’t going to be getting any more money from me,” Ms Breen was quoted as saying. I have also questioned the wisdom of the executive order from a business perspective—and for the same reason: If a family, say, decides they’re going to go to Ocean City one week this summer, I don’t see how pushing the start date to school back a week or two will encourage them to spend any more days or any more dollars in Ocean City than they had intended.

They might spend those days later in the summer, but that won’t change how much money the state or tourist businesses make. We’ll see how the numbers turn out after this year, I guess.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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