The first semester of the 2021-2022 school year is drawing to a close with the grading period ending on January 12.

This means that students have a limited amount of time to either maintain or bring up their 2nd quarter grades, semester classes are putting out their final tests/projects, and some core classes are moving forward with midterms.

Mrs. Ewell’s Creative Writing 1 class. Instead of a midterm, Creative Writing 1 students had a final project to create a website where they had to upload their best works as a digital portfolio of sorts.

Students returned from their winter breaks relatively close to the end of the semester, on Monday, January 3. This is different from January of 2021 when AHS students were still full virtual due to a surge of the pandemic. Last year, students were only brought back hybrid in much later, after the end of the first semester when, on Monday, January 25, 2021, AHS’s virtual academy was dissolved.

Ms. Villani’s Studio Arts 1 class. Despite being a year-long class, Studio Arts 1 has no end-of-semester assessment

For AHS freshmen, the end of the semester is a totally different experience than what most might be used to with the middle school’s 6-week rotations and lower stake final projects and presentations. “I think it is just going to put pressure on everyone… [but] for kids like me, who may not do the best in the class, I am glad that it won’t affect my grade,” said freshman Gracie Schmigel when asked about her upcoming biology midterm.

Mr. Haskins’s freshman Biology class, the only freshman core class having a midterm, learning about the cell cycle and cancer.

Due to both the pandemic and individual teaching styles, midterms are not a very common experience at AHS. This means that beyond stabilizing grades, all focus is on semester class’s final projects and tests. The only freshman core class having an end-of-semester exam is biology. “The test is technically not a midterm since it is not graded. I felt that naming it as such does help to identify it as an end-of-the-semester exam.” said freshman Biology teacher Mr. Haskins. When asked why he decided to have an end-of-the-semester exam, Mr. Haskins said, “The results of the test will inform which students may or may not do well on the first-semester content [part of the KeyStone Biology Exam].”

Despite the stress that the end of the first semester brings, the difference between January of this year and that of last year has not been lost on AHS students. Above all else, it seems like students are still grateful to be in person for this long, and for having the opportunity to work closely with their teachers in person. “It feels like things are being back to normal. It makes me happy that I can have one full high school semester with everyone just being here,” said sophomore Heidi Hamrick.

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