Dear KES Family:
Every two weeks I meet with a group of dedicated students who make up the Headmaster’s Council. Our sole mission is to make the School better by coming up with positive ideas for improvement and eliminating things that negatively impact the students. Over the years, the Headmaster’s Council has made a significant change. The “slounge” (Student Lounge), the new Cross-Fit room, proper snacks after school and after prep, the Head Girl and Head Boy tie and Executive Council pins. These are all examples of Headmaster’s Council ideas which have become reality.
Not all of our ideas are popular. This year the students suggested that we vary the menu for Tuesday lunch. Traditionally it is “Pizza Day”. Once pizza was eliminated, the complaints were numerous and immediate! Who knew that Pizza Day was an entrenched tradition? So, we have brought it back. Overall, I try not to be the abominable “No-Man” and treat each agenda item thoughtfully. Some suggestions are small but make a big difference – like installing a proper Bluetooth speaker in the fitness room, or switching the sensor from the water dispenser to a simple button (that was huge actually!).
This week one of the suggestions was to change the examination period so that no one would ever have to write two exams in a single day. Given that we have a wide variety of courses and many students with unique timetables, I knew instantly that this would double the length of the examination period and make it impossibly unwieldy, but the reality is that I like schedules that challenge students. KES is in the business of creating stressful situations, not cushy ones. No one’s schedule is full of two-a-day exams, and some students escape that particular challenge some years, but having the occasional day where one has to write a morning and afternoon exam is good. It forces students to organize their time and their study schedule. It teaches them stamina and gives them valuable experience. Like a hockey tournament with multiple games in a single day, one has to learn how to prepare physically and mentally and emotionally in order to perform well.
Two exams a day is good practice, not just for those students who will take the all-day IB exams in May of their Grade 12 year, but for students going to university. My daughter attended Acadia University and had two exams in one day. She also had exams from 7:00 to 10:00pm on Saturday nights! My son attended Queen’s University and in his last set of graduate exams he had to show up at 7:00am and was not released until 5:00pm that night.
There is a difference between good stress and bad stress, eustress and distress. We will always be compassionate and flexible with students who are in distress. However, the idea of making school “easy” actually undermines a key ingredient of growth and development. School is supposed to be hard. So while I was pleased this week to see Elvis Presley singing on his birthday in the Dining Hall, and open to having music playing from time to time during meals, I have to admit that I said no to changing the examination schedule to make it easier.