Extended Winter a Damper on ‘Senioritis’

Spring officially started on March 20th, but consistent snow flurries and sub freezing temperatures still remain.  How do these temperatures differ from other years and what effect does the colder weather have on the students?

Sue Pomroy, who runs the attendance office, has noticed a drop in unexcused absences compared to last year.  With a more strictly enforced policy, students receive Saturday detentions for skipping classes.

“We haven’t experienced the senioritis, but I don’t know if it’s because of the cold weather or because of the policy,” Pomroy said. “The rule has always been in effect but it has been very relaxed, now we’re being held accountable, so we’re holding the kids accountable.”

Senior Patrick Blair credits the cold weather to his classroom focus this year.

“If it was warm out, I’d be more focused on wanting to do stuff outside,” Blair said. “I was more focused on studying this year then during last year’s second trimester finals, when it was 70 and sunny.”

According to weather-warehouse.com, the average temperature in Detroit last March was 50.7 degrees.  So far this month, Birmingham, like the rest of the Metro-Detroit area, has consistently experienced temperatures in the thirties.

Psychology teacher Rochelle Rogers thinks that winter can be a more difficult time for students in school.

“When it’s dark and windy, students can develop Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can have depression-like symptoms,” Rogers said. “With the time changes and seasons, people often feel tired and sluggish.”

However, Rogers also believes that students are more inclined to come to class in the winter.

“Kids are a lot more likely to skip when it’s hot out,” Rogers said.

In the 1998 book “Winter Blues”, psychiatrist Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal wrote, “Seasonal Affective Disorder affects productivity in work or school.”

Rosenthal added that this disorder is prevalent in “six percent of the US population, primarily in northern climates”.

“Their concentration suffers,” Rosenthal said. “They slow down and have a hard time waking up in the morning.”

As the cause of better attendance at Seaholm could be debated, so could the weather’s effects on this year’s seniors. Senioritis, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors

Snow settles on Seaholm's softball bleachers March 19. Cold temperatures have remained in Metro-Detroit since late 2012.  PHOTO / CAROLINE SQUATRITO
Snow settles on Seaholm’s softball bleachers March 19. Cold temperatures have remained in Metro-Detroit since late 2012. PHOTO / CAROLINE SQUATRITO

as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades.”

“The nicer weather makes senioritis worse,” senior Tess Wilberding said.

Her sister, senior Aubrey Wilberding, disagrees.

“I have such bad senioritis the weather doesn’t matter anyway,” Wilberding said.

Senior Dante Capicchioni said seniors in their third trimester will skip, no matter what.

“I still see people skip just as much. If you don’t want to be in class, then you don’t go.” Capicchioni said.

Students seem to agree on the atmosphere present for third trimester seniors, but administrators have a different perspective.

“In my experience there is not a huge spike in the number of students skipping classes in the spring,” Assistant Principal Deb Boyer said. “Normally the students I work with on attendance issues in the spring are the same ones I’ve worked with all year.”

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