Final Countdown

Finals leave some students feeling ‘blue and stuck and sad’

DM Grade Savers was launched to support students struggling with virtual learning.

Illustration by Hannah Seratte

DM Grade Savers was launched to support students struggling with virtual learning. “We’re collaborating with other clubs and the administration to offer help to more and more students,” said club president Isabella Wells.

Chloe Allen, Staff Writer

An anxiety among students. A plethora of questions. A lack of motivation.

Welcome to final exams, 2020 style–which couldn’t be stopped even by COVID-19.

“I’m worried that I’m not going to be prepared even if I study really hard,” says DM junior Shelby Roberts “because it’s been difficult to learn with the problems brought about by the pandemic, such as technical difficulties.” 

This semester’s schedule changes have been very difficult for both students and teachers at DM. Extreme anxiety and stress over exams are common for students this time of year and the difference of this semester compared to past semesters seems to make it worse.

Most students and teachers agree that normal finals would not be fair this semester because of this especially stressful time. Some students even say that finals should not be given at all because of these special circumstances,

“We are in a very uncertain time right now and everyone, including adults and teens, are scared,” said says  DM junior Grace Froehlke. Having students stress about finals when they could be dealing with family issues, or health issues at the same time is “absolutely disrespectful.”

There are some kids that have worked themselves into a situation where they are feeling blue and stuck and sad.”

— Dr. Hirsch

A desire to return to normalcy is understandable, Froehlke said. “But with this schedule, we have not been in class every day, like we used to be. Giving finals out would be cruel and should be withheld until the end of the second semester.” 

Cruel or not, finals were given; many teachers opted for project-based finals instead of the more traditional pen or paper tests.

Many students say these project-based finals would be much fairer. Applying information for a project rather than memorizing the information for an exam can be a much better way for students to show the teacher exactly what they learned. 

DM junior Alexander Krueger said project-based finals are ideal because they “reflect on application more than just memorization”, making them a better test of a student’s knowledge.

“A project-based final would be a much better idea so that way you can show that you can use the information you learned throughout the year,” he said, adding that the weight of finals, which have been as high as 20 percent in some classes, is “way too high”. 

Many administrators and teachers agreed that final exams should look different this semester than ever before at DM.

“Finals are worth 10 percent of your grade (this semester),” says DM Principal Dr. Hirsch, “This is because we felt for a number of reasons that we are in a situation where we need to be as reasonable and flexible as we could be.”

“I think the best kind of learning is when we show the teacher what we know rather than tell the teacher what we know.” says Dr. Hirsch. “I have always been a fan of projects and research papers.”

Of nearly 200 DM students surveyed, more than 60 percent indicated they spent “several hours” a week preparing for exams, which is the most anxiety-inducing step for most students this time of year. With all students and teachers being online, motivation and excitement are lacking.

“There are some kids that have worked themselves into a situation where they are feeling blue and stuck and sad,” Dr. Hirsch said.

Luckily, resources are available to aid students in studying and preparing for subjects they struggle with. Teachers are often available for questions but seeing a tutor outside of the school day is a good idea for students who need extra help in certain subjects.

DM senior Isabella Wells has organized a tutoring program for students to use when in need. 

“People can go on our website and schedule tutoring sessions with our tutors.” Isabella Wells said. “We have even expanded to other schools like Chaparral so it’s growing.” 

Study groups can help students work together to achieve a common goal: doing well in their class. This tutoring program allows students to meet in groups with both classmates and tutors to better understand the material from their classes.

“There is a club branching off of the website to set up even more specific tutoring events for students,” Isabella Wells. The club, DM Grade Savers, will be available all next semester–so student’s won’t have to wait until finals to begin preparing.

For information, ensure you’re not connected to the SUSD server and visit the website: Virtual Tutoring Help.