Following suit with many other schools in the West Michigan area, West Ottawa will be starting on Tuesday, August 28, six days before Labor day. Although only a week earlier than normal, students and staff have mixed feelings about it, ranging from indifference to anger to ignorance.
“I feel like my summer is being taken away,” Jr. Hannah Prys said. Many students are upset about the shift of schedule, because it takes away about a week of Summer break, which doesn’t seem like very much. However, when there were only 12 weeks to begin with, a week is a lot of lost time. At the end of every Summer, the Prys family has a tradition of visiting their family in Bora Bora after they get back from their annual cruise, a week before school usually begins. The timing has always worked out perfectly, with just enough wiggle room to get back to Holland before Labor Day. However, with the school’s shift of start date, the Pryses will have to cut out the family time this year in order to begin school on time.
Lots of families might not get much vacation time, so Labor Day weekend may be one of the few days that parents get off work. In the first couple days of school, students are already learning material, and by the second week there are already tests and quizzes happening. There could be homework and stress already being put on students. This could make the four day weekend less enjoyable for families.
Many students at West Ottawa also have jobs in the Summer, meaning less money on their final paycheck. Jr. Grace Bruins works at the State Park beach store. Since it is only open during the Summer, that is the only time she is able to work. Not only does it limit the amount of hours she is able to work, but it lowers the total number of workers they are able to have. This means that the end of Summer tourism rush will be short staffed. The beach store may be forced to close earlier than usual due to that shortage.
Most students believe that, although it will take away their Summer, it will be worth it to have a longer Winter break. Remembering the days when students had two weeks off for the holidays, everyone is ready to get back to that luxury. “I understand their logic,” Jr. John Dang said.
The holiday break for 2018-2019 school year will be from Sunday, December 22 to Sunday, January 6, a total of four days longer (including weekends) than the 2017-2018 school year. “I like that it allows us to have more time together as a family for the holidays,” West Ottawa parent Lisa Vongphachanh said.
However, this extended break time is only a result of starting early, not the reason. West Ottawa negotiated a new teacher contract this past year, which is the main reason why school start date is a week earlier. “WOPS was negotiating a new teacher contract. The earlier start date was part of the new contract. The longer winter break is a result of an earlier start date,” Principle Todd Tulgestke said.