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East Student Launches Student Personal Days Campaign

With letters to local leaders, a White House petition, Sachem junior wants reward system for academics.

A Sachem East junior has recently launched a campaign to consider offering personal days for high school students to take at their own discretion, free from attendance policies.

"I know I may sound like an annoyed teenage kid disgruntled by the educational system and its forced attendance; but in reality, I just want to fix what’s happening around me."

So begins Alex Volpicello's letter he drafted to Congressman Tim Bishop, Congressman Peter King and President Obama. The self-proclaimed Democrat from Holbrook goes on to describe the mental and emotional state of high school students over the course of a long school year.

"Every day of my high school career I see my classmates, peers, and friends struggling with things as simple as stress, being overworked for a good college and a good life, and not getting enough sleep escalating to psychiatric problems of depression & anxiety, complete lack of interaction, and an overall dreadful high school experience."

Volpicello's proposition is simple: award students with up to five personal days based upon their academic acheivement. For example, a 90-100 quarterly average earns 5 days; 80-89 earns 4 days, and so forth. The personal days would be used at the student's discretion and would not count against the student's attendance record.

"I thoroughly believe that with an implementation of personal days as a respite from these struggles every now and then without abuse, there will be not only a general ease in the hearts and minds of students everywhere, but also a greater incentive to achieve if they know there is a reward."

In addition to the letter Volpicello wrote to national leaders, he launched a petition on the White House website to make the implementation of personal days a federal provision. The petition currently has 10 signatures, well shy of the 100,000 needed to elicit a response from the Obama administration. Anyone wishing to sign the petition can do so by clicking on this hyperlink.

For Volpicello, the Holbrook resident states that personal days would help contribute to the overall experience of high school.

"School needs to be less of a place kids dread to go in order to be a place where they are able to learn more and perform better."

Joe F January 29, 2013 at 08:15 PM
This kid gets 2 months off during the summer, Christmas break, winter recess, and spring break, along with a day here and there. And he wants more days off? Sounds like another spoiled Long Island brat to me, with obviously not enough homework! These kids on the Island are beyond spoiled already, air conditioners in classrooms? All the extra tries kids get from their teachers to increase their grades... When I went to school you were hot and uncomfortable, and your grade was your grade, very rarely a student got the opportunity for extra credit.
Alex Volpicello January 29, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Not enough homework? I beg your pardon, sir, but I'm up to 2am every single day and weekends from the moment I get home from school doing homework for 5 different AP classes and 3 honors classes. I know many who do the same. I see them being slowly drained of their former selves by lack of interaction, sleep, and freedom. And why do you say that your old days at school were better? You clearly didn't like or enjoy your time there.
Joe F January 29, 2013 at 09:13 PM
You chose those classes therefore you chose the work that comes with them. Nothing is handed to you, you have to earn what you get. I am saying that in the old days we were not spoiled, we dealt with the conditions, and the work load. Kids back then didn't cry about too much homework or that the classroom is too hot or that I have asthma and I need an air conditioner... Guess what a kid with asthma did....he sucked it up, he/she didn't cry about it nor did their parents. Concentrate on your work, getting good grades and stop worrying about how to change school. School is school, its not for you to love, it's school.
Alex Volpicello January 29, 2013 at 09:26 PM
You don't agree that if we did love school that it would be a lot easier to forget about all the uncomfortable parts and learn more? And I didn't choose these classes, I chose to want to have a good life. And apparantly a good life is characterized by a good job, which comes from a good college, and apparently the only way to get into a goog college is to remember the dates of the Iroquois Indian attacks on the American colonial settlements and how to plot a parametric equation.
Joe F January 29, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Alex, you are obviously very smart book wise, and you should have no trouble getting a great job, but you are still young and you have your whole life ahead of you. You should definitely enjoy your HS days, because life only gets harder as you get older. You don't NEED all those AP classes to get into a good college and have a good career. You chose to take all those classes. I myself took 3 AP classes in HS, went on to St. Johns University and have a great career. Don't kill yourself with school, enjoy this time. Shame on your parents for allowing you to place that burden on yourself. It sounds like to me you are in over your head. Good luck to you and remember, enjoy yourself alittle.
Shay Meyer January 29, 2013 at 10:21 PM
Sir, Alex is right. In order to be competitive in the college admissions process, students need to outfit their transcript with AP classes. Those AP classes entail working for hours on assignments and garnering information that might not have any bearing on the student's chosen career path. Not only is this frustrating for us, it makes us feel as if what we are doing is meaningless all in the spirit of remaining competitive. And about those breaks you claim we have? I spent EVERY high school break doing so much homework, I might as well have been back in school. Times are changing, sir. Students have much more pressure put on them and colleges have higher expectations of them than they did 20, 10, even 5 years ago. We aren't complaining about our workload, we're asking for a chance to rest, recoup, and regroup so that we can maintain the level of excellence we are expected to be at. Oh and with all due respect sir, do not talk about 504 plans like that (as in, your reference to the "kid with asthma"). My sister has a 504 plan and if she didn't have air-conditioning in her classrooms, she could end up in the hospital, or worse. Do not talk about something you know nothing about. Ignorance looks good on no one. Have a nice day.
Brandon R January 30, 2013 at 05:06 AM
Listen Joe , I don't know what level of education you have or anything about you so I am not going to talk down to you, but you really don't have a clue what you're talking about. If you're schedule is filled with 6 AP classes with gym being the only thing semi-comparable to a break I bet you'd want a break too. All the aforementioned vacations and breaks , aren't really breaks when every class you're in has assignments for the break. Assuming you have a full time job ,you would have personal days and sick days the only difference from an AP student is you get paid for your hard , or less than hard work. Try thinking about it from the other perspective before throwing terms like " long island brat" around.
Brandon R January 30, 2013 at 05:09 AM
Just because you didn't have certain amenities as a student doesn't mean successive generations should be deprived .
Marianne Cruz January 30, 2013 at 02:09 PM
While the suggestion shows great creativity, it is unfortunately slanted toward the stronger student and as such, would be very unfair. All students struggle in one way or another. Life isn't fair and it isn't easy. That's real! If one is particularly overburdened, then the answer is to find a way to bring balance into ones own life by eliminating something, dropping a club, staying home on a weekend and going to bed earlier. As a former high school guidance counselor I saw many students who were stressed and overextended. Some did develop emotional problems, but school was rarely the problem. The issue was often found in the manner in which that student handled stress. Take a deep breath Alex. Real life is hard work!
George Stenby Jr January 30, 2013 at 02:34 PM
There already is a reward ----- it is called a DIPLOMA!!!!!
JGJR January 30, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Some time ago there was a discussion about this very thing. There was a proposed solution put forth that provided relief on a monthly basis for this needed "recharging". Unfortunately, The powers that be found it way beyond possible to even consider. The plan consisted of three weeks of instruction followed by one week off, every month. The catch was, you would've been required to attend school throughout the entire calendar year. The students would obviously lose their summer vacation but so would those who teach them. I feel for you and your classmates, I like your initiative, but I also feel for your parents, for the system you (and them) are stuck in is a self serving, vicious machine built on fear and deception. If you are one of the lucky ones, both of your parents have their heads on straight and both help guide you through these most crucial and formative years of life.
Tom Calabrese January 31, 2013 at 12:44 AM
I have three daughters that graduated Sachem. All good students. I do understand the need for an occasional mental breather for anyone. That kind of a day was always discussed between my daughters and myself. If they needed a day home to 'chill' and I knew what it was for I would write a note the next day and get them excused. So I really don't know if it is necessary to formalize it. Keep it between parent and child. The parent should know about a day off regardless so it shouldn't matter. If they agree they need it they will write a note. Also, less face it, there are a lot of students that would abuse it. So, let it be an excused absence by the parent that they can do today.

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