Why midterms were cancelled


Margot Addis and Madison Butler

AP Biology Students sitting down to take a test during class block.

On Wednesday, January 5th, Brian Menegoni, Principal of Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, emailed students and faculty informing them that the 2021-2022 midterms had officially been canceled. 

Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School has joined many other schools in the region that have decided to cancel midterms. These schools include Pentucket, Central Catholic, Masco, and Reading. 

However, Ipswich, Whittier Tech, North Reading, and Peabody decided to continue with midterm exams as planned. 

In regards to different schools’ decisions to cancel midterms, Menegoni comments, “It’s all over the place.”

Though this news did not surprise most Hamilton Wenham students, it left others wondering why this decision was made. 

On Thursday, January 13th, Menegoni stated, “Ultimately, I’m the one who has to present the decision, so it[the decision to cancel midterms] would rest with me.” 

Although Menegoni made the final decision, it is clear that student and faculty voices played an important role in his decision. 

“In terms of process, it was something we talked about as a faculty, but also listening to what kids had to say,” he explained.   

Menegoni wasn’t alone in wanting to listen to student input. 

Ariel Greenberg, Class of 2022 Student Government Secretary, disclosed that “as a [member of]  Student Government, we’re really trying to get more student input, just to make sure that everyone’s voices are heard and to be able to make a decision that not just student government makes or not just the teachers make but that the whole student body makes.” 

This year, a survey regarding midterms was sent out to students on Sunday, December 19th. 

While Greenberg did not have access to the number of student responses to the survey, she did believe that “about half the student body responded to the survey.” 

Students’ responses to the survey revealed that most were in favor of canceling midterms. 

Menegoni also highlighted the role that COVID-19 played in his decision: “There’s a lot of people out sick right now, and it’s hard to predict who is and who isn’t going to be out sick, both kids and teachers. With that in mind, it was a fairly simple decision.” 

It was a fairly simple decision.”

— Brian Menegoni

It was clear to Menegoni that administering a midterm exam amid many student absences would become challenging for teachers who may have to deal with 4 or 5 absent kids retaking exams in each class. This would pose challenges when arranging for makeup midterms. 

Menegoni recognizes that the exam experience is still important, particular for upperclassmen.

He said, “you still have to take tests in college,” and the school wants to prepare students for that. 

However, after talking with students and teachers, as well as taking COVID’s impacts into account, Menegoni understands “that everybody’s kind of worn out. [So] maybe it’s okay to use that week to be in class with each other as opposed to taking these big two-hour tests.”

The cancellation of midterms makes the end-of-year final exams more complicated for seniors. 

In past years, seniors haven’t had to take finals if they’ve met specific requirements. This may change in the Spring of 2022. Menegoni explained, “We’re going to have to look at if we’re gonna do that this year because seniors haven’t had to take exams since they were sophomores.” 

“The question is, have they [seniors] been adequately prepared if they haven’t [taken final exams in two years]?”

Menegoni made it clear nothing had been decided. He said, “We have time to think about what that will look like at the end of the year for everybody.”

While the fate of end-of-year final exams remains unknown, it is clear that mental health, student absences due to COVID-19, and the decisions of surrounding school districts have played a large role in the decision to cancel midterms. 

With this in mind, many students are left wondering if midterms and finals could become a thing of the past.