Editorial: Why administration efforts matter, additional support strategies are vital


Photo credit: Maia Alvarez

Like the student pictured above, students often experience stress during finals week and in the weeks leading up to it. As a community, we should work together to reduce our stress, especially towards the end of semesters. Graphic design by Maia Alvarez.

By 22-23 Editorial Board

Archer students, along with thousands of other high school students across the U.S., experience high levels of school-related stress throughout the year. The editorial board identified our three biggest school-related stressors at Archer: finals, major assessments and the college-application process. 

Below, we have identified areas where the administration supports us during stressful times. We have also pinpointed ideas and strategies that we think would help reduce our stress as a student body.

It was important that we acknowledge administration makes an effort to support students whether it is through structured mentorship spaces, flexible time in our schedules and more. It is evident that our administration puts students first. In addition, we are lucky that our administration is so open to change and is constantly improving aspects of Archer life.

1. Finals

At the end of both semesters, upper school students take final exams for their classes. During finals week, the administration grants upper school free dress, and we are able to exercise our across-the-street privileges. Additionally, many teachers open their doors to students to provide a quiet place for studying. This support does not go unnoticed and makes us feel comfortable and prepared going into our finals.

We believe that instating a modified “quiet week” would make students feel even more prepared. Quiet week has been instituted at several universities such as Purdue University and PennState. This is when, in the week preceding finals, there are no major assignments, quizzes or new material covered. Purdue University polled their student-body, and 82% of students said finals week would be less stressful if they did not have graded assignments during quiet weeks. This allows for the time spent to be focused on reviewing the course material, reducing stress levels. 

We appreciate how many of our teacher’s set aside whole class periods dedicated to studying for our final. However, having several major assignments to complete while having to study for finals requires prioritization. We find it is really hard for us to prioritize studying for finals when we have to spend time on homework and other assignments. 

We are extremely privileged to receive such a high level of education at Archer. As a high school with challenging academics, a modified version of a quiet week could be transformative for students struggling to study for finals. Therefore, we propose that Archer institute an adaptation of quiet week, perhaps quiet days, where all assignments worth grade points should be due a few days before finals. During these days, class time would be specifically dedicated to studying for finals.

2. Major assessments

We are very grateful that the administration is supportive of students and are concerned about students’ high stress levels, especially regarding major assessments. First, the major assessment calendar is integral in ensuring teachers understand students’ assessment load in a given week or month. We are also appreciative of the instituted rule that a student should have no more than two major assessments on a given day.

One place where we would like to see change is regarding no-homework weekends. These weekends have been a part of Archer’s culture for a long time, but in order to make no-homework weekends more effective in reducing students’ stress levels as much as possible, we propose the rules of no-homework weekends should be expanded to all students at Archer.

Currently, students who take advanced study classes are allowed to be assigned homework even when there is a no-homework weekend. For students who take accelerated and regular classes, homework and projects assigned on Thursday and due the following Monday seem to override “no-homework weekends.” 

We believe that it would be beneficial for all students, regardless of the classes they are taking, to have no-homework weekends.

We also think that it would be advantageous during the semester to have one no-homework weekend every one or two months. In order to directly find out about students’ stress levels during a given period of time, it would be helpful if the administration sent out a regular poll surveying students’ stress levels and whether or not they would appreciate an upcoming no-homework weekend. 

3. College-application process

One area that Archer excels in reducing stress is around the college-application process. 

The college-guidance department is extremely organized and helps many students’ submit applications by December. Archer’s college counselors truly care about us and spend countless hours a week supporting and meeting with students. 

Parents are also extremely supported during the college-application process as there are numerous resources available to them. The department hosts zoom meetings where they thoroughly explain every aspect of the process and send out informative emails which make parents feel included.

Archer is unique in that the college guidance counselors begin talking to students about the admission process in tenth grade. We believe this helps quell premature anxiety around the college. The counselors continually emphasize  that there are hundreds of amazing colleges and that applying to the colleges that you will thrive at is paramount. By the time students have to apply to college, they feel confident and prepared to fill out their applications. 

With strong administration support, it is also up to us students to cultivate a supportive environment around the topic of college. This begins with how we engage in discussions when talking about different colleges and universities. Additionally, we need to be more patient and respectful when interacting the with the college department.

Like everyone who attends Archer, we know how unique our school is. We are so grateful to be surrounded by a supportive administration, and we hope that this article provides clarity and distinguishes the areas where administrative support is thriving and where additional support and change is needed, even from us students.