Commuter reporters Mary Harvilla and Justin Pietkiewics asked the NCC community how they feel about the cancellation of this year’s spring break…
Northampton Community college recently canceled spring break after winter played havoc with the school’s schedule.
Mardi McGuire-Closson, vice president of Student Affairs, sent the announcement to students and staff after Mother Nature caused some students to miss up to a week and a half of classes.
“Given the amount of time that has been lost, classes will need to be made up to give you the education you have paid for and deserve and to meet Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements for instructional time,” McGuire-Closson said. “For this reason classes will be held during spring break. None of us are thrilled about this, but our options are limited.”
The decision drew a mixed response in the college community, but the initial reaction among many seemed to be shock. “I wasn’t expecting it, honestly. I was surprised,” said Kyle Baka, a second-year General Education major.
For Josh Campbell, a first-year student, news of the cancellation seemed like a cruel prank that turned into a harsh reality.
“I honestly did not want to accept spring break being canceled,” he said. “I asked a bunch of my friends if it was true and everyone had told me yes. Then all my professors confirmed that rumor. I literally wanted to cry.”
Snow and icy shredded lesson plans for professors like Heath Mensher.
The cancellations “affected them all completely,” Mensher said. “Specifically, the way that my lesson plans go is like a snowball rolling down a hill. I need one thing to come another after another after another and so on. When I lose the ability to interest my students consistently, I lose my ability as an instructor.”
Some students had to make adjustments to their plans as well, and were not happy about it.
“This does mess up my plans,” Campbell said. “I was planning on heading up to New York City to spend time with my family and friends but now I have to cancel all of that because I have classes on certain days now.”
Some, like second-year Environmental Studies major Jennifer Fazekas, were more philosophical about the bad news.
“I was looking forward to a break, but I feel selfish for saying that,” she said. “After all, the snow days were breaks.”
Another second-year student, Caleb Smith, said cancellation of spring break “was probably a good decision. Some of my classes are behind and (the extra classes) will help.”
Whether students actually attend the make-up classes the week of March 17-22 is another matter. Some students have prior commitments that they cannot postpone.
“I know that some students won’t show up because I have some classmates that already have trips planned to go out of state and they are not canceling them,” said Annie Stech, a first-year student. “If I did have plans, I wouldn’t cancel them either. That was supposed to be my week to relax a little and catch up on some work.”
There will be a lot of empty seats in classrooms that week, predicted first-year student Adrian Merino.
“I don’t think many will attend because others have vacations planned (and) will still go no matter what,” Merino said. “Others (won’t attend classes) for religious reasons as well, including me. This doesn’t affect just the students but the families as well. Even the teachers are overwhelmed by this choice.”
Professor Mensher said he believes that students will show up, but they won’t be as committed to learning as usual.
“I feel they will go, but I feel that just because they are there, their brains are not there,” he said. “Their bodies will show up, but that isn’t the important part. Going to class isn’t enough, you have to participate or it passes you by.”
Some students wonder whether making up classes will make any difference.
“A lot of teachers already had to make adjustments due to cancellations,” Biology major Chris Haefner said. “I don’t think a couple extra classes will make a difference. We would have had added work to do over the break anyway.”
Stech is optimistic about the benefit of making up for lost classes.
“I do think we will learn those days,” she said. “Although I would rather not be in class, I know that we did miss some work that should be made up. Most of my classes are all behind in work except my online class, so I do think that these days will help get us caught up.”