HS Principal's Message
5/9/2011by Paul Mackaill
High School Principal
End of year greetings to everyone.
Thoughts of summer are beginning to fill our minds, perhaps earlier this year given the beautiful weather we have been enjoying. At the risk of being a killjoy, I would like to draw your attention to the end of semester examinations your sons and daughters are soon to take.
We are just ending the AP/IB examination season and are about to enter the ASH end of semester examination period. These assessments are very important and will form 20% of the semester grade. The details follow.
Semester examinations will begin on Wednesday, 8 June with Blocks H and G, Thursday, 9 June Blocks F and E, Friday, 10 June Blocks D and C and will end with Blocks B and A on Tuesday, 14 June. Students only have to attend school when their examinations take place on those four days. To help our students best prepare for these important assessments, the four days prior to the start of the examinations are designated Review Days. No new material will be taught, nor homework given, nor grades awarded for any assignments during these four days (2 blocks per class) prior to the beginning of the examinations. The 4 Review Days are Tuesday, 31 May, Wednesday, 1 June, Monday, 6 June and Tuesday, 7 June. Please note the sequential disruption to both the review days and the examinations caused by the national holidays on 2-3 June (Ascension) and 13 June (Whit Monday). If students need to stay in school before, between or beyond their two-hour examinations, quiet rooms have been designated for them to study as well as having the library and cafeteria available. The first examination each day will be between 8.45-10.45am, and the second examination between 11.45-1.45pm.
Last year some students became upset when they discovered their examination scores by checking PowerSchool during the examination week. This could have negatively impacted their performance on other examinations that week. Consequently, we shall not be opening E2 (semester 2 examination scores) until Thursday 16 June. S2 (semester 2 grades) and teacher comments will be opened by midday on Friday 17 June.
A couple of final thoughts to share that apply to teenagers throughout the year but particularly during the examination season. Neuroscientists have learned a huge amount about the workings of the human brain in recent years. Teenagers need more sleep than we do; about ten hours sleep per night if they are going to be physically rested and have the necessary 'downtime' to intellectually process the previous day of learning. Please remind your sons and daughters about the necessity of a rested body and mind for maximizing academic performance. Don’t forget that working brains need to keep hydrated with regular water over caffeinated drinks. If your son/daughter normally regularly exercises, this is a good de-stressing activity to continue during the lead up to the examinations. Preparing for the semester examinations without cramming is the ideal preparation. Material stays with us longer when we study over time and enters our long-term memory. Cramming can only place material into our short-term memories for a short time. Cramming may be successful for some students for a regular class test but is not a successful strategy for a battery of end of semester examinations. Breaking up study time with breaks is very important. The brain needs time to relax and prepare itself for the next revision session. Some students will welcome their parents’ active support during their review time, others may prefer a friend’s and some prefer to prepare in solitude. Recognize that most of them will need a social dimension to their studies as well as a social event to look forward to. Teachers frequently share their own tips for examination preparation with the students. Please feel free to do the same.
Thanks to all parents who have supported us as we have tried to provide the very best education we can for your children. To those families who are leaving the ASH community, we wish you and your families well. To those returning to ASH next year, we wish you a joyful, recuperative and fun summer vacation, revitalized to begin the 2011-12 school year with purpose and energy.