Longer Breaks, Shorter Summers Good for Buddies, Bros, and Brains

Summer break is almost here for Horizon Honors, yet many schools are already free. But for any other school break, Horizon Honors’ kids are the ones still out of class.

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Photo Courtesy of Selina Fluty

As summer rolls in, students will soon be spending lots of time by a pool. Horizon Honors’ kids tend to get less summer vacation. But are the other, longer school breaks worth it?

Selina Fluty, Columnist

Summer break – a sort of checkpoint in the school year. We’ve made it to a new level in the education system: congrats! However, while other schools have let out classes, students at Horizon Honors are still toiling away. It can be kind of painful, in the lightest sense, to see the summer selfies while you’re procrastinating on that pile of homework on the bed.

All public schools in Arizona are required to have 180 “seat days,” meaning our behinds are required to be in the seats for that amount of time.  But schools across the state have different interpretations of what those days look like and how they are broken up throughout the year.  Most schools in Arizona let out at the end of May and start at the beginning of August. Horizon Honors lets out this year on June 5, and we go back to school on July 27. But, to make up for that shorter summer break, we have other longer breaks – usually a week more than other schools. At those parts of the year, we’re the ones taking the celebration photos and getting the “Lucky!” comments.

When it comes down to it, that extra week on the other vacations can be very helpful. We get more time to do (or procrastinate on) our out-of-class homework, more time to relax, and more time to be with our  friends and families. It allows for longer vacations to more places throughout the year instead of cramming them into the one block of time over the summer.  We still have plenty of time over the summer to take vacations, and plenty of time over the winter to visit family.  But with longer spring and fall breaks, we can go places then, too, and still have some time left over to relax at home with our books, our PS4s, our friends, able to do things we want.

An added bonus is the fact that Horizon Honors’ breaks work much better with Phoenix temperatures. While it’s 102 degrees outside, we’re learning. And although that sounds like a drag, when the high for the days during spring or fall break is around 76, Horizon Honors’ students are still playing hard for a week longer than students from other schools. This means that students are outside more, and we’ll use our breaks to do more, instead of just hiding from the heat.

Also, if you think about the chunks of time we’re not learning, how would being away from school for months over the summer impact our brains?  According to the National Summer Learning Association (summerlearning.org), there is significant research that shows longer summers can impact student learning in a few ways:

  • We forget information if it has to do with procedures and facts.  So,  if we take a standardized test at the beginning and at the end of summer break, we will score lower at the end of break.
  • Because we forget more procedural and factual information, we can lose up to two months’ worth of our mathematical abilities.

With less time to forget, Horizon Honors’ students retain more learned knowledge, which can help school performance.

A longer summer may allow students to do more while everything is nice and toasty, but that one week break during spring and fall isn’t as fun. There’s less time during winter, spring, and fall breaks for students to “recharge” for the next couple months, and the teachers also have less time to have their own vacations and plan for the quarter ahead. Having shorter summers and longer breaks is more beneficial to students and teachers.