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Student Perspective: Culmination Week

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Assessment Week Schedule

This is a part of a Student Perspective column by Rachel Ledoux.

In Jan. 2024, for the first time in years, all Bellows Free Academy students partook in Culmination Week – also known as ‘Midterms.’ For four half-days, classes took exams and worked on projects to demonstrate their learning throughout the semester. 

The week wrapped up with Winter Carnival, which features games, refreshments, and events for students to unwind after their work during the week. 

According to Polly Rico, “The week went very well, for a first attempt,”

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But how did students feel about the revival?

The Mercury surveyed 41 Bellows Free Academy students to gather information about Culmination Week and how students felt it went.

Overall, most students rated Culmination Week fairly well – with the average falling at 

According to students, the best part of Culmination Week was, overwhelmingly, getting to go home early. Of the 41 respondents, 30 mentioned that the half-days were a highlight of the week. Among them was Adeline O’Bryan (‘25).

“I enjoyed that we had half days to help us recenter ourselves and our learning,” she said.

There were a few additional benefits students mentioned, including the Guidance De-Stressing event and having time after exams to work with teachers. Some students, like Ivy Hoang (‘24) just enjoyed having the time to relearn forgotten content.

“I enjoyed relearning the content that I had forgotten about,” Hoang said. She added, “I love to learn.”

The Mercury also asked students about the potential post-graduation benefits of Culmination Week, given the emphasis on college-preparedness that inspired the exams. There were a myriad of viewpoints expressed.

Some felt that Culmination Week was an effective way to prepare for college testing.

“In college, there will be midterms and finals that are significantly more important than these assessments were,” Amelia Wallace (‘25) shared. “College-bound students need to be prepared for them.”

This was exacerbated by Sean Baldwin (‘24).

“It helped [me] to better acclimate to the testing environment,” Baldwin said. 

Other students, however, expressed that the exams did more harm than good. Sam Preston (‘24) was one such student.

“I don’t believe it was beneficial in the slightest,” Preston said. “Midterm week did nothing but cause unnecessary stress and overwhelming behavior for me.”

Shakia Ludlam (‘26), however, noted that the stress may have been conducive to her success.

“Although the midterms cause a lot of stress and panic to study, I feel that they did indeed show how well I was doing in my classes and what I need to work on in the future,” Ludlam said.

Furthermore, others felt that the structure of the exams led to them not being as impactful.

“It’s more like a review test, not a final exam type of test,” William Joseph-Emery McGee (‘26) said. “So I don’t really see it as beneficial for anything.”

Students also shared their experiences at the Winter Carnival, which involved various activities. 

Though, for many, the Winter Carnival experience may have been simply going home. Of the 43 respondents, 21 chose not to attend the Winter Carnival. 

Of the remaining students, many attended either the crepe-making activity or the movie.

As a whole, students had a variety of positive and negative experiences with Culmination Week. The early release days were popular to many, but there were concerns with the structure and the lead-up to exams. Winter Carnival also did not appear heavily popular among students.

Regardless, it appears that midterm week is likely here to stay.

“I think I am going to do [Culmination Week] again,” Rico said. “It checks a lot of boxes, helping students understand exams [and] how to purposefully plan for something like this.”

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About the Contributor
Rachel Ledoux, Editor-in-Chief
As a senior, this will be Rachel’s fourth year as a writer for The Mercury and her second year as an editor. Rachel enjoys writing for The Mercury as a way of improving her reporting skills and amplifying the voices of her peers. In her free time, she likes reading, social organizing and volunteering. Rachel is also Editor-In-Chief of the Yearbook, Stage Manager for the Theatre Department, and youth representative on the St. Albans City Committee on Energy & Climate.

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