About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The end of the school year in New York State

I know that I have a number of readers of this blog from New York state. However, many are from outside of the state and the country. I am always interested in the blogs that I read, about learning what their end of school year is like. So I decided to write a "cultural" piece about how students (at all levels of education) end their school year in our state. Interestingly, it has not changed much since I was a child (in the dark ages of the '70's and my mother assures me it was much the same when she was a kid in the '40's).

Our school year starts late (first week of September, just after labor day or the first Monday of Sept.) and ends late (third week in June). In addition to finals, high school students take the regents exams, which goes back as far as my mother's time. Regents exams are curriculum based topical standardized exams (i.e. algebra, geometry, living environment, foreign language, world history, english, etc...). These exams are given usually the second and third week of June which is why our school year is so long.

At the grade school level, the last week of school usually has a number of half days involved. Students help the teachers pack up the classroom, have some fun activities such as school field day (outdoor activities and games), school picnic, or other community building activities. This is also when the kids get the assignment for the summer (usually summer reading requirements).

At the university level, most schools end in Mid-May. There is usually the end of classes the first week of May, followed by a "reading day" in which students can study for exams. Exams may be anywhere from 4-10 days depending on the university. The weeks leading up to the end of the semester, students start looking for summer or permanent jobs. Even during finals week, many students go home, returning their possessions they use during the year to their homes or moving into off-campus housing (for the following year) and/or looking for summer jobs. This year was especially hard for our region to find summer jobs as many of the chronically unemployed and senior citizens now work the traditional summer jobs year round so temporary part-time employment is not available. As a result, many college students are working retail and camp jobs, often the jobs taken by high school students.

After finals week, there is usually a week of activities for graduating students culminating in the graduation ceremonies.

High school students don't graduate (for the most part) until the third week of June. Often, high school seniors are done with their regents exams so most seniors are finished with school by the first week of June. Between exams and graduation, seniors take their class trip, attend their senior prom (formal dance for those outside of the US), participate in College orientations/registration (although this may happen throughout the summer) if they are attending college or begin job training (for those going to work right out of high school). For those with jobs (which I mentioned is low this year) they begin to work a full-time shift.

After the graduation ceremonies, either the day or weekend of, or during the summer, most students have graduation parties. These parties can either be elaborate (rented hall) to simple (family in the backyard) or anywhere in between (combined with others, at a park, etc...). Usually, the students receives cash to use in college or to establish themselves (i.e. deposit on an apartment) if they are going to be working full-time. Throughout the summer, graduates will attend parties for their friends. My son has 2-4 parties a weekend, every weekend until he leaves for college in August.

Interestingly enough, college graduation usually does not result in a big party. It is high school graduation which is considered the important milestone. The other important milestone (though not as much as high school graduation) is the transition from Middle School to High School. Often there is a middle school graduation, at the end of the school year. Most people I know have a small family party to mark the middle school graduation, but more often than not, this is celebrated by going out to dinner. Some schools also have a formal dance, but often that is the private schools rather than public schools.

Once the school year is over, many families take a vacation. Depending on the year, the end of the school year might fall close to the end of June which allows for an extended vacation over the 4th of July holiday. At any rate, most people in New York take their vacations the end of June, or first week of July or during the week before Labor Day (the end of August). Most camps start right after July 4 and do until the first or second week of August.

So how does this compare to the end of the year for where you are? I'd be interested in knowing what some of the rituals are for others outside of NY state.

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