Teachers and Students Weigh in On HBA’s Short Summer

Seniors Justin Do (left) and Elyse Suzuki (right). Photo by Justin Mayeshiro ('22).

On August 2, HBA students woke up, dressed in uniforms, and reported to the first day of the new school year while many other private school students remained asleep in their beds.

While some private schools only begin school in late August, HBA’s school year begins in the first week of August and includes a two-week fall break that the late-August start schools do not have. Despite the early start to the new school year, many HBA students that the Eagle Eye spoke to don’t mind the trade-off that allows them to have a two-week fall break.

School breaks provide students and teachers with time to go on trips, spend time with their families, or simply rest. Science teacher Isaac Duncklee spends his breaks traveling. He said, “I really like to take the summer break or other breaks to recharge. And my favorite thing to do on a break is to travel. So, I travel as much as I can when I have the opportunity; that’s kind of my favorite form of recharging.” When he is not traveling, he, like many other teachers, spend some time during school breaks to do work. “I always spend a little bit of time planning my calendar, planning new activities, planning your labs for the school year,” he added. 

Counselors have a slightly different way of planning. Director of Counseling Danford Chang wrote, “Summer for me is usually spent closing the previous year, meaning that I do things such as packing up files from the previous year and then doing things like ordering tests for the next year, course changes, setting curriculum, working on the academic calendar, and writing letters of recommendation.” As for his preference on summer break lengths, Chang responded that as a student, he preferred a schedule with a longer summer. “The breaks are longer and I can take on more personal projects and endeavors, longer trips, etc. However, as an educator, I think the year-round schedule works best for our students because they really benefit from shorter but more frequent breaks. I think that works for our students’ mental health much better. Just as things are getting elevated and escalated, you know you’ve got a two-week break,” he explained. 

For many students, summer is a time to take extra school courses. According to Market Watch, 3.3 million students enrolled in summer school in 2019. Senior Elyse Suzuki transferred from Saint Andrews Priory in ninth grade and attended summer school every year from first grade through the summer of her sophomore year. She said, “I went to Iolani [summer school] every year. It takes six weeks. So, when I went to Priory I had a longer summer as it only took up maybe half of my summer. But when I went to HBA, it took up like the whole summer.” Any time left of her summer is spent hanging out with her friends or doing summer homework. 

Justin Do, a senior, attended a summer workshop on Transportation Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for about a month. And when he’s not attending classes, Do enjoys using his summers to read. He prefers a schedule that does not have fall or spring breaks because he doesn’t feel very productive during school breaks. “I would rather spend time just doing school work because I can focus more if I’m [in school,]” he explained.

Unlike Do, Suzuki does not prefer any specific schedule. She says, “When I went to Priory, I found it really difficult because a lot of my friends from outside of school went back to school and I couldn’t hang out with them. But now that I’m at HBA I kind of miss having like a longer summer, because, like with summer homework, there’s not a lot of time to like do the things you want and do summer homework; but at least when you have like a longer summer it’s okay to spread out your things more and kind of relax a bit.”

Though fall break is a while from now, October 4 to be exact, students are already looking forward to the intermission. Suzuki is looking forward to “going out with loved ones and trying new things and hobbies.” 

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