School Implements Major Assignments Week in Turkey Term

As announced during last week’s school meeting, this year’s Turkey Term will feature a major assignments week in the last week of classes beginning this Saturday. The change was implemented through the collaboration of the Student Council’s Vice President of Academics Andrew Tokarski ’20 and Dean of Academics and Science Master David Laws P’21 ’23. Although the Friday and Monday class schedule switch may cause some confusion, Tokarski hopes the addition of a major assignments week will help alleviate student stress levels at the end of Turkey Term.

Throughout his years at Lawrenceville, Tokarski, along with many of his peers, experienced the intensity of Turkey Term firsthand. In fact, Tokarski’s first all-nighter at Lawrenceville happened during Turkey Term when he needed to stay up to finish an essay for Forces That Shaped The Modern World. Drawing from his own experiences, Tokarski advocated for the inclusion of a major assignments week, which was one of the three main goals listed in his platform.

To fulfill his goal, Tokarski worked closely with Laws over the summer and early fall. After initially considering a list of possible dates and scheduling options, Tokarski then communicated with the rest of Student Council and informally gathered preliminary feedback from students, narrowing down his options to two possible schedule changes by the end of October. Afterwards, he sent out a faculty survey to decide on the final dates, with 60% of the faculty voting for the current major assignment’s schedule and 20% voting for an earlier major assignments week.

The implementation of this major assignments week is ultimately a pilot program, and thus, Tokarski is actively seeking feedback from students and faculty on its effectiveness and possible future improvements.

“It’s great that we have the opportunity to test this. Dean Laws worked really hard with the faculty and other members of the administration to help support us in getting it implemented, so I’m really excited to see how it goes,” Tokarski said. Lawrenceville community feedback will play a large role in deciding whether or not Turkey Term will continue to have a major assignments week in the future.

While Mathematics Master Timothy Brown H’84 ’04 P’04 ’08 believes that Turkey Term is an “unpleasant necessity,” he hopes the changes this year can help students. “It hasn’t really affected my planning and scheduling, and I think it can really help students manage their time better,” he said.

Many students seem to appreciate the policy. Ankita Suri ’21 said, “I’m anticipating the stress of having all my major assignments, but I think that breaking up our major assignments and making sure each class will meet before tests will allow us to get extra support from our teachers.” Similarly, Cherie Fernandes ’21 said, “I think that my teachers have also taken initiative and dispersed their assignments earlier into Turkey Term [which has] definitely helped, and I like the schedule change because it allows us to touch base with teachers.”

However, Ingrid Guo ’21 has noticed that “sometimes there has been a little confusion with teachers regarding the modified schedule,” especially because it is not present in the all-school planner.

Other students not only found the policy itself unhelpful but also disliked the manner in which it was implemented, particularly with regards to the schedule change: “I understand why it was done, but I find it unnecessary,” Natalia Ibarra ’20 said. “I would have preferred our same schedule because having all classes on Friday throws off the community. I also believe we should have had a student vote on the policy rather than a faculty vote. Students are more affected by the timings of major assignments. Faculty just have to change their [syllabi].” Amelia Roselli ’21 believes that the major assignments week may “make teachers feel like they have to assign major assignments” on the allotted day when “it might be too early in the course.”

This year’s pilot Turkey Term’s major assignments week will last from this Saturday, December 14, until next Wednesday, December 18. Beginning with E period on Saturday, the following week will have two major assignments on each day, starting with C and F periods on Monday, A and D periods on Tuesday, and B period on Wednesday.