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Teachers opt out of exams for alternative finals

Finals: a word typically synonymous with the one week per semester when teachers dole out semester-encompassing tests, for which students furiously cram during the weeks prior. However, as many as one third of CHS educators choose not to abide by this unspoken-testing rule, opting not to give their students traditional exams and instead going their own unique routes during the last week of the semester.

In Jillayne Ange’s World History class, her students will be assigned a historical character and have to relate it to other historical characters in a conference-type scenario for their final. Ange explains that whether students take a traditional exam or participate in a project, students will get a similar grade—the grade they deserve.

“Last year, in Mrs. Ange’s class, I pretended to be Fidel Castro for the final,” junior Grace Lee recalls. “It was relaxing and not stressful at all, but also tied together everything we learned during that semester. It was fun and informative.”

Similarly, Marc Stafford’s U.S. History classes will also be doing a project presentation, while his Philosophy students will be doing a portfolio and interview.

Suzanne Marden’s French III students will be continuing to write and eventually perform a fairytale story of their own, and her I and II classes are also doing projects, although her other classes are taking traditional finals.

Many students attending CHS seem to appreciate the alternate finals, one being senior Allie Staehle.

“I think that one or two of the teachers giving projects instead of tests can relieve some of the pressure while still having some form of testing,” Staehle explains.

Nora Ward has her students take a regular exam, but in a group setting so that it is more of a collaborative effort. In Brian Granbery’s Video I class, students view and critique films while his Video II class completes their primary semester projects.

Some teachers choose to forgo anything and treat the day as usual, including Health teacher Leigh Cambra and choir teacher Thomas Lehmkuhl; the latter uses the period to rehearse for the winter concert.

Likewise, science teacher Matt Borek, in both semesters of last year, gave a very brief exam, used the rest of the period as a “health study hall” and served his students treats.

“Last year in Mr. Borek’s Health class, we made waffles instead of taking a final,” sophomore Chloe Katzenberg says. “It was a great stress-reliever because I had more time to focus on my other classes’ finals.”

Steven Russell has chosen to task his art students with a black-and-white painting, and drama teacher Gracie Poletti will have her students prepare a monologue or scene. Holly Lederle’s AP Studio Art 2D students will critique their own work from this semester, and those in Graphic Design will be trying out a new program. English teacher Hans Schmidt will assign his students to defend a controversial person in a speech for their final.

Although the trend of giving final projects in lieu of exams is alive and well within CHS, the majority of teachers do actually note the importance of traditional finals, one of whom is English teacher Whitney Grummon, who firmly believes that giving a typical exam helps to prepare her students for college.

“Most of my students will be going off to college where they will also face traditional exams,” Grummon explains. “I think that I’m not doing my job if I don’t prepare them for the next step.”

Yet a large number of CHS educators have actually ditched the final exam norm and chosen to go their own respective routes.

-Annalise Krueger

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