What Happened to October Break?

As the infamous “autumn slog” comes to a close once again, the feeling of burnout steadily grows more palpable on the Lakeside campus. From the seniors swamped with college applications to the freshmen still adjusting to the high school workload, that period from the beginning of September through the end of November is hardly a peaceful time for anyone.

Roughly 65% of surveyed Lakeside students believe that there should be a break in October. Others believe that the two long weekends are enough, and that they’d rather deal with a breakless autumn than risk the possibility of shortening summer break. Still others suggest that the issue could be dealt with through the inclusion of another long weekend, or the addition of more break time throughout the year. Nevertheless, that high percentage signals an unaddressed need in the Lakeside community: the need for an October break. 

As the infamous “autumn slog” comes to a close once again, the feeling of burnout steadily grows more palpable on the Lakeside campus.

According to crew athlete Izzi K. ’25, balancing sports and school for such a long stretch of time can be exhausting. “Burnout is inevitable,” she posits, “because you have to sacrifice either homework or sleep.” Furthermore, Izzi noted that the subsequent lack of sleep often translates to a difficulty in recovering from those strenuous physical activities, which only leads to further exhaustion. Even though there are still weekends to break up the near-constant stretches of school, those weekends are often filled with projects, homework, and competitions, and as the fall season is the only sports season without an extended break, the load can quickly grow unmanageable both physically and mentally. 

According to research conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, “Students need breaks and vacations without the worry of homework or school work on a regular basis to maintain mental health and keep grades up.” An added break in October would allow students a chance to relax and recharge in the midst of what is usually an incredibly stressful time. Furthermore, it would also offer them the opportunity to delve into extracurricular activities and hobbies that they’re passionate about without the restrictions posed by a near-constant influx of homework and tests. 

Some Lakeside students may remember that October break was within our reach just a few years ago. Introduced in the midst of a flurry of ambitious (but never realized) schedule reforms, it made its ideational debut among other proposals such as a three-week period called “Lion Month” designated for internships, college applications, and more.

The promise of a new break in October seemed too good to be true– and sadly, it was. In the utter chaos of the early pandemic, it was seemingly swallowed up by a hundred more pressing concerns, and as of right now, there has been no sign of its return. 

According to Academic Dean Hans de Grys, the cancellation of the plans to change the annual calendar was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the Head of School change. And although the administration has plans to return to the question of calendar reforms in the near future, there have been no mentions of instituting an October break. 

Nevertheless, I believe that if Lakeside is to truly follow through with its promise to “develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to a global society,” a more forgiving break schedule is a necessity — and it begins with the addition of an October break. For what could be more beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit than the time and freedom to pursue one’s passions, experience new things, or simply relax in the company of family and friends?