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Is it Better for School to Start Before or After Labor Day?

What's the best timing for the first day of school?

Danvers Public Schools students are still more than a week away from the start of school, with teachers scheduled to return on Tuesday, Sept. 4 and all students head back on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

But many local schools head back in the coming week - before Labor Day.

Which way is better? Would you prefer students head back before Labor Day? Why?

Or does the current Danvers school calendar make sense? Why?

Let us know below in the comments section.

Currently, the last day of school will be June 20, with no snow days. If five snow days are used, the last day with be June 27.

Carla King August 25, 2012 at 10:40 AM
It's always been the wednesday after labor day! It's always worked, why fix what isn't broken?
Fara Beeman Andre August 25, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Agree with Carla!
Helen Gray August 25, 2012 at 01:13 PM
FAMILY is very important. As we rush from here to there from one event to another there seems to be no time for FAMILY VACATION. Most employees get 10 vacation days/year. So we try to make the best of them and saddle them around a holiday. The 4th of July and Labor Day. In late August days the weather is better and the hotels, airfare and crowds are less and you just have time to relax. You get the important time to relax as a family. If school starts before Labor Day it stops families time together and life begins as we knew it -rush here and there...... A child forgets what they learn the first days of school but a family vacation last a lifetime. That is why I am so HAPPY DANVERS STARTS AFTER LABOR DAY--TIME WITH THE FAMILY. They way it should be and meant to be. GOOD FOR DANVERS!!!!!
Terri Dwinell Brown August 25, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Personally, I would prefer to start BEFORE Labor Day primarily because of the winters unpredictability. If we have overages on snow days, we would still get out of school earlier in June, thus freeing up more time before 4th of July. BTW, I am a crossing guard and enjoy my summer vacas as well.
Samantha Johanson August 25, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I prefer after Labor Day. Growing up we always went back to school after Labor Day. Labor Day signifies to me the end of summer. Making kids go back 2-3 days before Labor Day and then having a day off on Labor Day seems foolish to me. It messes up everyone's clock having Labor Day off when you go back to school the week before. Hopefully we'll have a mild winter like last year again. I like having that extra week of sun and fun with my son. Plus a lot of places aren't as busy the week before Labor Day, like the beach because a lot of other towns are back in school. Can't beat that! :)
Tristina Kimball August 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I totally agree Helen
Tristina Kimball August 25, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Ditto!
Connie Varoudakis August 25, 2012 at 08:11 PM
All of your reasons are perfectly legitimate. Family time is very important. If it is working why change it. I have always been an educator and a parent in districts that start after Labor Day. What I have come to conclude after years of teaching and administrating in schools is that having school start before Labor Day makes better educational sense. Most students look forward to the start of school (no matter what the date). They are ready to learn and teachers are prepared to teach them. Many teachers take courses and workshops over the summer and are eager to implement new strategies in the classroom to support the learning needs of all students. Students in districts that start after Labor day may not be on an equal playing field when it comes to MCAS testing, AP testing, and the new Common Core assessments (which will replace MCAS) coming in the spring of 2015. MCAS exams and AP exams are set each year in advance. All Massachusetts grades 3-8 students take the exams on the same days as do grade 10 students. Most of these exams are in March-April and May (http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/cal.html). Students in districts who start after Labor day have a minimum of a week less class time. If days are taken for snow or other unforseen circumstances students may have two weeks less class time than students in districts that begin before Labor day. Advanced Placement (AP) exams are always the first two weeks of May. Students who do well get college credit. No characters left.
Connie Varoudakis August 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
DHS AP students, can be 2 to 3 weeks behind in course work (last year DHS started Sept. 7. Some years it is as late as Sept. 9) than their counterparts across the US who take the exams the same day DHS students do. It is a credit to DHS AP teachers whose students manage to get a 5 (the highest score) on their exam. Some DHS students take 3-5 AP courses and can save on college costs by scoring well on the AP exams. In any financial times shaving off college costs is important for families. It is a challenge to keep students motivated to learn after the exams, MCAS as well AP. Every day in June can be a challenge keeping students focused on learning. Teaching and learning days in late June do not compare to teaching and learning days at the beginning of the year in late August early September. Most districts that start early have students attending school Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the week before Labor day then have a 4 day weekend (Friday-Monday) resuming school on the Tuesday after Labor day. The minimum 4 day head start to learning in these districts may translate into further understanding of the content that all students will be tested on at the same time. There are many variables that affect student learning and starting before or after Labor day would scarcely impact that learning. But in these days of standards and assessments the time is right to open up the discussion again about the first day school and what impact it have on students in Danvers.
dssdsdfsdfs August 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM
well good for you you probly work 4hrs a week
Helen Gray August 25, 2012 at 10:13 PM
So it is your argument that 3 days before Labor Day have an impact on AP and MCAS Scores. Don't make me laugh. If 3 days of class time is so significant, shame on our educational system. What a lame argument. If classroom time spent in the classroom is so important in the school system, than why do ALL the area schools have Conference days, teacher workshop days all before these all important test. Education does not just happen in the classroom. The mind needs R&R, and Family time, waiting the 3 days helps contribute to the mind growth. It was this country that invented the auto, atom bomb, sent man to the moon, computers etc.... All this happened because the prior generation knew not to have our kids "RACE TO NO WHERE". Education was fun and not just taking test as the focus. The test success was the result of great education, not class hours. Danvers it appears knows that 3 days are not that significant but vacations are and Danvers also knows that it is part of education. Danvers Knows what is Best!!!
Tristina Kimball August 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Way to go Helen!
Helen Gray August 25, 2012 at 10:53 PM
FYI--- Connie Varoudakis, is the assistant principal at Danvers High School.
Rick Bettencourt August 26, 2012 at 01:30 AM
@Helen.......I think it's great you feel so strongly about this particular issue and that students returning after Labor Day is your preference. However, you should be ashamed of yourself with your choice of words and tone you used in answering Miss. Varoudakis. She is the Assistant Principal of our High School, was selected for that position because of her professional experience and recommendations, and deserves the respect a Sr. Administrator in our schools is owed. Use this forum as a means to debate, encourage, and drive home points regarding the many aspects of our town, but don't use phrases such as "Don't make me laugh" or "What a lame argument". Her argument was neither lame nor was it intended to make you laugh, it was a well thought and clearly detailed answer to some peoples concerns or questions. The fact that you don't agree is great, that's the beauty of this forum, but when speaking with a professional in our school system you should be a professional, and not present yourself as you just did, which is an ill advised individual who could not substantiate argumentative points with our Asst. Principal. One who obviously has some interesting data to support HER position, data which as it appears to me, you lack. I don't have a child in Danvers H.S. yet, but I do have a child in the elementary system. I'm neither for nor against this position at this time, I would like to see scientific data to support or refute this proposal.
Tristina Kimball August 26, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Hi Rick.. I am very familiar with Miss Varoudakis and she is actually a great administrator of our High School. I also know, she would not take offense to Helen's comments. Helen's resonses were very vaild. 3 days will not make a difference to those who are truly AP students. I had said in an earlier response, if the students are true AP worthy, than the later start date will not make a difference. The fact that they are a 5 is proof they do not need the extra time. However, having said that.. if they would like to start earlier.. that would be something that could be looked at. They are the minority, not the majority and more of us would like to spend time with our children.. and not be in a hurry to get rid of them. As far as the other testing pressures, nothing they learn the first 3 days is going to make a difference especially when there is a long weekend immediately after they start. Let them be in the right mode for school.. it hasn't had any adverse affects so far that I can see. The AP students are a testiment to that.
Helen Gray August 26, 2012 at 02:08 AM
I was unaware of Connie Varoudakis vocation when I wrote my response. It was later that I Googled the name to find that she was the assistant principal at Danvers High School. Her position does not change my remarks. The fact that I have a Doctorate Degree from a well known University in Boston, does that change your comments? I hope not.
Barbara Dunphy August 26, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I would like to inform your readers that several school systems on the North Shore use to start before Labor Day and have returned to the traditional after Labor Day Start Date. Newburyport, and Georgetown to name a few. Please note both schools were listed as top 50 Schools in Boston Mag. In addition, St John's Prep starts after Labor Day and their students take AP test the same day as other schools in May and they perform great. They also have less days of school like 169 days and they do not make up snow days. Why do they not need the 3 days before Labor Day. -------- I support starting after Labor Day for the reason everyone has stated. I do not believe 3 days makes a difference. I vote for FAMILIES!!!
Tristina Kimball August 26, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Excellent feedback Barbara! Thank you so much for sharing!
Rick Bettencourt August 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Again....I'm not saying that Helen's argument was baseless, who knows, perhaps after reviewing the issue I just might support Helen's position. The responses may have been valid, however the means in which they were delivered were the point of my post. Don't confuse the issue. I follow these patch forums quite frequently, and all too often people selectively "forget" how to use appropriate manners when addressing others. Very few individuals have the fortitude to speak in the same manner and tone in person as they do in print. I commend you for having your Doctorate, I only have a Bachelor of Science degree. So, the fact I have two lesser degrees matters not, because I was taught by my parents to be respectful of others because as was the case for you, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'RE TALKING TO! Pretty fair words to live by, wouldn't you agree?
Rick Bettencourt August 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Excellent job Barbara! That is some pretty interesting research data and that drives home some valid points.
Sean Ward August 27, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I loved it when I was a kid but now I'm surprised by the number of days kids are off during the school year for teacher's meetings and professional development days. Wouldn't it make more sense to do these things before the children come back to class? Maybe the week before labor day? That way the children can get their extra days of education during the traditional school year. Also, do they really need so many half days?
Doug Lewis August 29, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I have seen articles on both sides of this issue (not sure how scientific some of them were). Some articles said that the summer break is too long and students forget much of what they learned the previous year - and others say the down time and family time is too important to cut short. While I see the validity of both sides I agree more with keeping the date the way it is. Many families have two working spouses and children with very busy schedules with summer jobs and summer camps. I find that labor day weekend - when things are winding down - is a great time to close out the summer with a family vacation and I would hate to lose that. My daughter will be taking 4 AP classes this year - and I did understand Ms. Varoudakis' point about the AP tests as well as June not being as productive as September, however, until I see data that shows a correlation between an earlier start date and improved AP scores I would rather keep the date as it is - after labor day.
Tristina Kimball August 30, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I think that is a great idea!
Tristina Kimball August 30, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Sounds valid to me, Doug. congratualtions on your daughter taking 4 AP classes..You must be very proud of her as she must be of herself.
gege z September 02, 2012 at 03:36 PM
I've always started school around my birthday, August 20th. I never knew it was "supposed" to start after labor day. Never happened to me.
gege z September 02, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Also 4 APs is nothing. I know people taking 8. Junior and senior year.
Doug Lewis September 04, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Gege What???? I wasn't bragging about my daughter - I was trying to point out that I have a vested interest in starting school earlier if it would help AP's - I just haven't seen any proof that it will and I doubt if a few days matters. Your comment doesn't make any sense anyway. I said my daughter "will be taking 4 AP classes this year". The way you wrote your note it can be read as you saying 8 each year (Junior and Senior) or 8 over the two years. No one in DHS can take 8 each year, but my daughter, like many other DHS students, will have taken 8 by the time she graduates. Lets hope the few days doesn't matter to any of them - I don't think it does.

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