An open letter to the school board about senior exam exemptions

I’m sure by now everyone has heard at least one senior complain that three absences for the senior exam exemption just isn’t enough. Well, as a senior, I completely agree. It’s a common misconception that senior year is just something you’ll breeze through, and that is just not correct. Here, at this school, students have been taught to challenge themselves by taking advanced classes or AP classes. The side effect that tends to happen to a lot of seniors is getting overwhelmed with a number of things put on their plate and taking days off just so that they can mentally survive the rest of the week.

I’ve taken these days, as most seniors have, and have named them Mental Health Days because that’s essentially what they are. Students miss school days so that they don’t have mental breakdowns. There are also people who have physical ailments, like rheumatoid arthritis, which causes people to have swollen joints and chronic fatigue. How are people like this able to physically come to school and only have 3 days that they can miss? They can’t.

There are also people who are in the hospital for a week or more due to surgeries that need to get done, because they’ve either gotten injured in a sport that they play or they’ve gotten really sick and are hospitalized long term. It’s unfair to them as well.

The fact that only school-related absences don’t count toward the three days is honestly unfair. I get that these absences are because of something you’re involved in through the school. Regardless, you’re missing school, and it’s not always because of a class. More times than not, it’s because of a sport that someone is involved in. I’m not saying that people who have school-related absences get special treatment; what I’m trying to say is that if you can miss a school day because of a class or sport, why can’t you miss it for a medical or mental issue?

You should have a certain percentage in the class or GPA to be exempt from exams. You can’t have students who had an entire first semester to miss as many days as they’d like, and then say they can only miss three days total. It’s hard to transition to that mentally for a lot of seniors. I know it’s too late this year to change the requirements, but I ask that it’s changed for the years to come.