By Elizabeth Kolling
Flowers pop open like vibrant firecrackers, painting an explosion of harmonious scents and colors over the lush, green landscape. The sun casts its radiance upon the earth, ridding it of the cold and bitter remembrance of winter. Students anxiously sit in classrooms, counting down the days to summer, imagining the existence of a world without the burden of school obligations.
The 4th quarter has begun; classes are confirming their final topics and concepts, an infectious case of senioritis is slaying the senior class, the dreaded “finals week” is around the corner, and the seemingly never-ending school year is drawing to a close.
Naturally, the 4th quarter is known for being the most difficult stretch of the school year. There appears to be a direct correlation between the rise in temperatures and the decline in student focus. The once razor-sharp mental prowess becomes sluggish and over-run with thoughts of summer, fun, and relaxation, invading and occupying the minds of many. Like a plague, this condition sweeps across the campus and ultimately corrupts even our finest academics. No one is safe and few are spared! The characteristically dedicated student/teacher population at SA is thrown in direct conflict with the rigorous demands of school’s final quarter.
Even though the onset of spring coupled with the demands of the final quarter affects everyone, each grade, student, teacher, and individual is shaken by the pressures and deals with them in their own unique way.
Freshman Caleb Kornfein said, “The increase in temperature affects my focus in class because it makes me tired and uncomfortable which are not ideal conditions for working. I just continue doing what I’ve been doing all year to finish out strong.”
Sophomore Kayja Mann says, “I try to finish the year off strong, ’cause why not?”
Although these two students don’t solely speak for the whole of their grades, it is apparent that they both have a quality that drives them to finish the year successfully; be it the fact of being lowerclassmen in which they are not as exhausted from the high school ultimatums or wholly being the distinct nature of the two individuals.
Junior Savannah Stoughton states, “I usually end the year about the same as when I started, even though it feels weaker. I’m okay when it comes to grades but, like I said, motivation is waaaay down.”
Senior Mitra Kukic-Potrebic said, “It is definitely harder to focus. It’s not so much summer as it is the prospect of being finished, as I feel that I have given what I can and more is being asked and I don’t have more to give. Hot weather is insufferable, in my opinion, so that doesn’t really help when trying to focus.”
With the year coming to an end, these two upperclassmen display a sense of disincentive towards high school as a whole, which seems to correlate with the severe demands of its last two years in which classes become more intellectually challenging and the pressures of college are more present.
It is agreed that seniors tend to struggle with the 4th quarter most of all. The commonly referred to term known as “senioritis” is a controversial expression between teachers and students in which the crippling disease strikes senior classes and results in an overall dismissive attitude.
Senior Mitra Kukic-Potrebic states, “I think senioritis has been a phenomenon among many of my classmates for more than just senior year… Personally, it became most prominent and extends from the beginning of my sophomore year.”
Humanities Teacher Kerry Hanlon addresses the issue, stating, “I don’t believe senioritis is something external that students “catch.” I think students talk themselves into it–it’s an excuse. It’s socially sanctioned laziness/checked-outness/passivity. We all make excuses for ourselves sometimes, but it bothers me when I hear seniors referring to their lack of commitment to their work as if it’s a badge of honor–something to be proud of.”
Teachers are aware of the 4th quarter struggles and lack of focus of the students as well. With this newly expressed absence of motivation among the students, teachers are sometimes forced to change the way they approach their classes, students, and assignments. Although teachers understand the mental state of their students in the days approaching summer, they believe it is not a justification for their effort and quality of work.
Director of Theater Jen Cote says, “I have noticed that in spring, when the air warms and the flowers bloom, the focus in the classroom seems to be a bit more challenged. I think spring makes teens feel a bit alive and a lot more ‘twitterpated’. I try to do more group-project based assignments in the Spring. It is more difficult to lecture when I sense the students wanting to be outside enjoying the sun, or socializing with their peers. My two final projects give the opportunity to rehearse outdoors and also collaborate a bit more, and within that, there are more opportunities to engage with one another. ”
Humanities teacher Kerry Hanlon said, “I don’t see a big difference among sophomores. We spend most of post-spring break on philosophy, in which many students are interested, so maybe this helps. I see a bigger difference among juniors and seniors. Students are less likely to do their reading or to invest much time into thinking about what they read. I sometimes notice a general passivity or checked-out-ness during class. Students leave frequently.”
The 4th quarter marks the end of a hectic and demanding school year for both students and teachers alike. The warm weather naturally provides a freeing and relaxed atmosphere for students and makes the state of being in a classroom challenging.
Although it is hard, the same amount of determination is expected to be brought forth by students and sometimes, this seems more than impossible. Students and teachers must dig deep and find whatever it takes to power through.
Whether it’s summer around the corner, the fact that it’s one’s last year, or reminding oneself that “you’ll be happy you did” when it’s time to start applying to colleges, the reward and satisfaction of overcoming the temptations of spring’s sirens and finding the inner strength to do so is perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the journey.