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The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

The Student News Site of Lake Forest High School

The Forest Scout

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PowerSchool Blackout During Winter Break Enhances Stress Levels

PowerSchool+Blackout+During+Winter+Break+Enhances+Stress+Levels
Lyla Carney

On Dec. 18, the first day of 1st Semester Finals, I wrote an essay for my Spanish exam that was weighted substantially. My grade was one percent away from dropping to a lower grade, so it was crucial that I performed well on this final.

While I understood that grading over 100 student essays is an extremely time-consuming and tedious process that most likely would not get done before break began, I hoped I would see my final grade for this class and my other classes sooner rather than later.

To my dismay, on Dec. 27, PowerSchool shut off and restricted students from viewing their first semester final scores. PowerSchool has shut down during Winter Break throughout my high school career; although I was anticipating this blackout, I couldn’t help myself from looking on the platform daily to see if there were any gradebook updates. 

For the remaining days of December and even leading into January, I would check PowerSchool regularly in hopes of finally being able to see all of my final grades, some of which were a percent away from raising or dropping. 

A few days after break began, I wasn’t able to relax and fully take my mind off of the finals I recently took. Some of my finals, such as my math and biology exams, were weighted 20 percent of my grade and could significantly change what the grade on my transcript would show up as. 

The thought of some of my finals being graded but having no power to access them left me overthinking my study habits and answers I put on tests as well as gave me a great amount of anxiety. The worst thing about this was that I had to wait until Jan. 8 to see my scores. 

Meaning, despite many of my scantrons or exams being graded, I wasn’t able to access PowerSchool, so the uncertainty ate away at me for 11 long days. 

Associate Principal Dr. Sassen says that the intent behind the blackout was to “alleviate the need to check Powerschool on a regular basis to see if grades had been entered.” 

While I understand that some students can accept that their only option is to wait for the grades to be posted and stressing about the situation is aimless, this is not the case for me. This is also not the case for many of my friends, teammates, and classmates.

What I would see on my phone when I opened PowerSchool during break (Lyla Carney)

Senior Ellery Newman says, “Not knowing what I received on the final exam in my AP Calc class or knowing my overall semester score notably tested my patience. Every single day of break, I was unsure if I ended with the grade I set as my goal to end with, or if it dropped more than I would have liked.”

I couldn’t agree more with this due to the fact that instead of forgetting about the stress that came with finals and being able to decompress, each day added up and increased the amount of stress I was experiencing, the complete opposite of what break intends to accomplish. 

Having a PowerSchool blackout during the time off started the year when LFHS had finals before break. When the school had finals after the weeks of Winter Break, the need to access PowerSchool and view grades during this time was very minimal. Once finals were moved to before break, this changed. 

One of the main reasons final exams were moved to before break was to ensure that students could have a relaxing period without the need to study or complete work. If exams followed the couple weeks of break, students would either choose to study and miss out on the intentions of having a break, or would choose not to study and not perform well on their finals; both being troublesome situations.

Yet, Dr. Sassen says that the school “felt it was important for teachers to have the ability to enjoy their breaks as well, without the need to grade finals and submit to PowerSchool.” 

Although I recognize the logic behind this decision and agree that both teachers and students should be able to enjoy their break, keeping the PowerSchool portal open during break and allowing teachers to enter in the final grades as they please would best benefit students.

The objective behind having a PowerSchool blackout is worth addressing because I’m very grateful that finals were moved to before break. However, in order to let students relax and recharge, keeping PowerSchool open would be a great solution.

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About the Contributor
Lyla Carney, Staff Writer
Lyla Carney is a junior at Lake Forest High School and is thrilled to be a first-year writer for The Forest Scout! Lyla is a devoted member of the Varsity Dance Team, and is involved in Student Council, Scout Buddies, and Student to Student. Outside of school, you can most likely find her blasting Taylor Swift in her car, hanging out with family and friends, or walking her dog, Chippy, by the beach!
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