deans council votes to keep shortened break

Deans Council decided that Thanksgiving vacation would remain an abbreviated break for Phillips Academy students. The Thanksgiving break for the 2005-2006 school year will be the same length as it was this past year. Instead of enjoying a week-long break, students will be required to stay on campus the weekend before Thanksgiving. After attending two full days of classes the following Monday and Tuesday, students will be released for a five-day Thanksgiving holiday. The administration decided to retain a shortened Thanksgiving vacation to compensate for the loss of teaching days occasioned by a late Labor Day. Even with the extra days added by reducing the length of Thanksgiving break, PA barely managed to meet the minimum of class days. This school year contained 140 full class days, while the 2002-2003 school year contained 147. There were no vacations shortened in the 2002-2003 school year. The administration also retained the shortened Thanksgiving break because they wanted to keep a certain amount of continuity in the schedule until they are ready to address the school calendar as a whole. As Labor Day remains so late in the summer, a debate has arisen over whether the PA community would rather have time added to the end of the school year or the beginning. By shortening summer vacation, internal vacations would be able to resume their traditional length without compromising the number of teaching days in the school year. This solution could possibly result in the resumption of a full-length Thanksgiving holiday. Dean of Studies Margarita Curtis said, “If you don’t move the bookends [the beginning or end of summer vacation], the crunch has to occur somewhere else in between.” If the administration added days onto the end of the year, in June, spring term would be extended; this would help to balance out the disparity between the length of fall and spring terms. The Phillips Academy administration could also add school days by starting the school year before Labor Day. This would make the PA calendar more similar to those of other schools, most of which begin classes before Labor Day. Students were divided as to which path to pursue. Catherine Crooke ’07 said, “I would rather have them keep Thanksgiving break as it is than add days to the end of summer, because Thanksgiving will feel short no matter what. Also, you’re so much more tired by the end of the year, that I’d rather not feel like my summer was being cut short.” Roxanne Knapp ’07 said, “I would want days to be added at the beginning of the summer because we get out so much earlier than other schools already, and I would rather have summer go longer than start later.” Student Council President Daniel Adler ’05, said, “I didn’t even know it was an issue. I was under the impression that this year’s situation was a one-time deal that happened because Labor Day fell on a strange date.” The PA administration will address the school calendar at the conclusion of this school year.