Is Homework Truly Necessary and Beneficial to Students?

By: Belle Beauchesne ’25 

Homework is something almost every student has to deal with on a daily basis. Most teachers say that homework is necessary for students for different reasons such as practicing key skills taught in class, practicing accountability and responsibility, or simply just another grade in the grade book. But as we get older, we seem to have more and more homework each year, which poses the question of how necessary and beneficial it really is. Why should students have to go to school and work all day just to go home and continue to work all night? This is a question that has been debated for years, and we’ve interviewed both students and teachers to get further insight into opinions on the matter of homework. 

I interviewed Mrs. Waterman, the World Literature, Honors American Literature, AP English Language and Composition, and Independent Study: Women in Literature teacher, and found that she is definitely in favor of homework and sees it as a necessity to do well in class, and prepare for college. 

When asked about her general opinion on homework she responded with the following. “I think that homework is important, especially in an English classroom because reading is an individual pursuit and you interact with the text, you embody the characters that you are reading, and you live their experiences. We do that independently and as an individual. I think that assigning reading and then having kids annotate while they’re reading, answer questions while they’re reading, write questions while they’re reading, or draw a picture to interact with the text in some way is really important so that they can then come to class and learn from each other, ask their questions, challenge each other, and have all that material prepared for a really in-depth, sophisticated class discussion, activity, writing assignment, or whatever we do in class with that. It would be so hard for the class to move forward if you weren’t doing that independent leg work on your own the night before. The other reason I really assign a lot of homework and believe in homework is because I tell kids in high school you are in class eight hours a day and you have two hours to do homework at night time, give or take. But in college, which is what we are all preparing you for, it’s really an inverse relationship where you have class for only two hours but you spend about eight hours prepping for that class. The volume of homework that you are going to receive at the institutions where you guys are all hoping to go off to and attend one day just exponentially increases so much so I think if we’re not assigning homework at this level we’re doing you a disservice for what comes down the road.”

After talking to Mrs. Waterman about her thoughts on homework, I asked her if teachers should have a timeline for grading the assignments.

“I always say to my students that I feel that homework is important, so everything you read I read, and everything you take the time to write down, put pen to paper, I will take the time to read, grade, and evaluate, so I spend a huge amount of time doing homework myself. It takes a really long time to provide thoughtful commentary on student work. I’m backpedaling here because I make the same New Year’s resolution to myself every year, I’m going to be better about getting feedback to kids on time and returning their papers to them and their grades to them, so yes I think absolutely there should be a fair amount of time to return the assignments. In my own experience, I’ve taken so long to return a paper to a student that they get it back and they are like ‘what is this,’ ‘I don’t even care about this anymore’ and so all the time that I spent giving that feedback is lost because the kids don’t even remember or care anymore. So I think that yes, timely feedback from teachers on homework is really important. Should the school set limits, I don’t know how effective that would be but I think teachers have their own internal timeline where they are saying ‘oh man I have to get this back to my kids’ and I don’t know a single teacher who hasn’t had that exact thought.”

Next, I decided to interview Mrs. Ragatz, the Honors Chemistry, and Chemistry teacher because I know that she is on the no side of homework being beneficial to students. I interviewed her over email, and here is her response when asked what her opinion is on homework and how necessary it is for students.

“There are several reasons I’m not especially fond of homework. 

  1. Students who already understand the concepts being covered frequently don’t need the homework, so it becomes busywork. Students struggling to understand the concepts in the assignment become discouraged, frustrated, or are practicing mistakes in their problem-solving. For students who need practice, it’s much better for them to have help in the classroom than to practice mistakes outside of school. 
  2. Although it’s not as much of a problem at schools like Hebron Academy, it can be inequitable. Some students don’t have stable home lives and may have to work or take care of family members after school.  In 2016-2017, over 2500 Maine school children were homeless at some point in the school year. This problem has increased with the affordable housing crisis and the pandemic. Homework magnifies the problem of socioeconomic differences that affect access to education. If you are struggling just to survive, doing your chemistry homework isn’t really a big priority, and not doing it negatively affects your grade. 
  3. Students are already over-committed with respect to time. If students take 6 classes and every teacher assigns 30 minutes of homework, that’s 3 additional hours students must spend at the end of the day, after all other time commitments have been met, focusing on school work. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. 
  4. Most importantly, I’m a scientist. I try to use data to inform my choices in the classroom. With respect to homework, especially for younger students, research shows that it doesn’t do much to improve student achievement or outcomes for their education, except for a handful of studies that show a tiny bump in standardized test scores. It has been shown to have negative effects on mental health and family relationships. I can provide a list of references if it would be helpful.”

So, after seeing two sides of the argument from two different teachers’ perspectives, what do you think? Do you agree with Mrs. Waterman, that interacting with the class outside of it greatly benefits students and prepares them for college, or do you agree with Mrs. Ragatz, that students have enough on their plate and the extra load of homework could cause unnecessary stress, especially when science shows it’s not beneficial?

Filling the Frame

By: Cassidy Russell ’25

This photo was taken in the fall, for my photography class. At the time, we were working on composition and learning how to operate our cameras. This was one of my early pictures, and it displays “fill the frame”. Filling the frame is achieved by composing an image with its subject taking up most of the space on the photo.

Is a Hotdog a Sandwich?

By: Mason Hatfield ’24

The mid-July sun is beating down so hard you can hear it. The croaking haze roars, giving way only to a gentle breeze and the sizzling of the grill. Minutes later, a still-crackling hot dog is placed on a bun and served. We have all had a hotdog at one point or another, and we have all had a sandwich at one point or another. Both hotdogs and sandwiches have been around for centuries, and hundreds of thousands of people have sunk their teeth into each numerous times. With their long and intertwining history, the question of what exactly is a hotdog has arisen. Is a hot dog a sandwich? After some extensive research and continuous in-depth thought, I have come to the conclusion that a hotdog is in fact a sandwich.

I know this conclusion may upset some people. If you look at the cold hard facts and set aside personal opinions, you will come to the same conclusion. I was once on the not-a-sandwich side and firmly believed that sandwiches and hotdogs were completely separate beings. One defining factor set this sword in stone for me; a sandwich requires two slices of bread. Then came along something that would pull that sword from the stone; subs. I’m sure you’ve been to a Subway sandwich shop. Subway sandwiches are undoubtedly sandwiches, right? Well, they have only one piece of bread, with a singular slice that gets stuffed with meat and whatever else you want. That sounds familiar. That sounds like a hotdog.

This astonishing revelation got me thinking, if we count subs and sandwiches then we have to count hot dogs, right? I needed an answer to this question so I did some research. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a sandwich is “a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit.” With this definition, both hotdogs and subs can be considered sandwiches, finally settling the “beef” between Team Sandwich and Team Not a Sandwich. 

After unquantifiable amounts of research and thinking, I have come to the conclusion that a hotdog is undoubtedly a sandwich. The x-factor to this conversation is subs, if I never realized subs and hotdogs are eerily similar I never would’ve been enlightened to the sandwichness of hotdogs. Subs catalyzed hotdogs into the sandwich category.

Round Square trip to the U.K.

By: Cotton Strong ’23

During the last two weeks of September, five Hebron students, accompanied by Mrs. Bonis and Mrs. Gaug, traveled to the United Kingdom to attend the round Square international conference. Round Square is a group of almost two hundred and fifty schools that meet annually to discuss and work for their six “ideals”: internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership, and service. 

The Hebron Academy student delegation participated in a variety of activities throughout the trip. But arguably the most important part of Round Square goes beyond just the designated activities. Besides just working to understand the ideals of the conference, the point of round square is to have students from all over the world meet each other. The Hebron students met many people of many different backgrounds and cultures.  First and foremost, there were a lot of British people in the United Kingdom. We quickly learned that they think our accents are as dumb as we think theirs are. The other English speakers like Australians also had things to say about the way we talk. Everyone was surprised that we don’t call McDonald’s “Mackies” or “Mackers” or sunglasses “sunnies”. Non- Native English speakers like students from Peru and South Africa were shocked to learn that most of the American students only spoke one language since they were all at least bilingual. Students from Peru also brought some food to share, including a caramel-milk thing I can’t remember the name of, but it was very good, I promise. At the end of the day, even though Round Square is about learning to work for a better world, the stuff that takes away is the experience of meeting new people from so many unique cultures, and making new friends, even if you might never see them again. In summary, the real international student conference is the friends we made along the way.

The reality of students’ progress on summer homework

By: Hannah Sullivan 24

On August 20th, Erin Keville and I conducted a survey that went out to forty people. The basis of the survey was to scale students’ progress on the summer reading assignments, with only two weeks to go before the start of classes. The survey was as follows: 

Have you a) finished your summer reading (including the work that goes along with it, b) started the readings but not yet finished them yet, or c) not started the reading(s) or the work yet? 

Out of 40 responses, 8 students answered a, 26 answered b, and 6 answered c. 

Fifteen percent of students had not started the summer reading by August twentieth, Sixty-five percent of students had only started by then and not yet finished, while twenty percent had completed it all. 

Dr. Oakes, the chair of the English department, gave her thoughts on these results:

“Based on what I see in my classroom each fall, I’m not surprised to learn that more than half of the students surveyed hadn’t finished their summer reading so close to the start of the school year. As a parent of students and as a person who cherishes downtime myself, I realize that summers can be full of family obligations, summer jobs, and travel. And I know that not everyone’s ideal summer day is like mine, sitting as close to the ocean as possible and reading from dawn to dusk!

I do find it concerning, though, that so many students wait so long to turn to their summer reading. In part, this is because one of the reasons Hebron teachers assign this work for the summer is to encourage students to see reading as a habit that happens all year long. We hope that students can make time to read in a favorite place and at a pace that works for them and, in doing so, realize that a little reading can make for a nice meditative or relaxing moment. I’d like to feel that we are helping students cultivate a stronger appreciation for reading. Another reason I assign summer work is because my students are usually in my Honors or AP classes. These classes are designed to move at a speed and at a difficulty level similar to a college course; thus, the day classes begin in the fall I want to start setting expectations for intellectual discussion and jump right into a conversation about the (what I consider!) intriguing texts from summer reading. We don’t have time in these classes to read a few chapters at a time and gradually gather enough context and content to discuss. So if students haven’t done the summer work for my class, they can be at a disadvantage right from the start. This goes for students in other teachers’ courses, too: Waiting too long to do the reading—or not doing it at all—makes it harder for a student to connect to the class material from Day One.”

Whether Dr. Oakes’ stong suggestion to keep up with your summer work-for your own benefit- influences you to change your mind about reading on vacation or not, I think many students can agree with us on the fact that while we may say now that we’ll be more productive this summer, in reality, it will still probably get left to the last minute.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Be an Ethan Fan

By an Anonymous Ethan Fan

10. Zero problems

There is nothing wrong with Ethan. Many have tried to find even a single issue with this fine gentleman, but his record is spotless. When you really think about it, there’s no reason you shouldn’t obsess over him.

9. He’s got loving fans

When you become an Ethan fan, you are joining a community of millions. Everywhere you go, people will now be able to relate to you. You may not see them, but Ethan superfans are everywhere.

8. He is a musician

If you already thought Ethan was too cool, you might die when you hear that he also plays multiple instruments. As well as being a professional recorder and drums player, he also is very good at digital audio recording. He has released amazing pieces such as his cover of “My Heart Will Go On” from the hit movie Titanic, which he performed live to hundreds of people.

7. He is an athlete

Ethan is the best swimmer on the Hebron Academy swim team. He has impressive times in the freestyle events. He’s also an incredible freestyle skier, and an amazing defensive soccer player.

6. He makes great costumes

Ethan has created many amazing pieces of costume design over the years, most notably his Captain America cosplay.

5. He is a genius

Ethan is very smart.

4. He is very charismatic

Once you see Ethan speak, you WILL fall in love. He has many moments of public speaking that could be considered the best speeches of all time, but his most famous is the speech in which he talked about how much he likes water. His speeches have been an inspiration to millions.

3. There is a lot of information about him

 If you want to learn more about Ethan Frumiento, you can find it easily by following the famous instagram account, @big_ethan_fan87. This account posts updates on Ethan frequently, keeping you up to date with all the Ethan news.

2. His quotes are world-renowned

Much like his public speaking, everyone has been inspired by an Ethan quote. I don’t know where I’d be in life without his wisdom, and I’m sure many can relate.

1. He looks good

The picture below speaks for itself.

A Day in the Life of A Boarding Student

By Adi Blum ’20

8:05 It’s time to go to breakfast!

My favorite thing about studying at Hebron Academy is the view I get to see once I wake up and leave my dorm.

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day.

Since I haven’t seen most of my friends before study hall, breakfast is the perfect time to catch up and start the day with a smile (and waffles)!

10:10  School meeting time!

We sit with our advisory, get updated every day about what activities are happening and which clubs are meeting that day!

Also, all seniors are presenting their “Last Word” during the school meeting. It is an amazing opportunity to learn more about our classmates.

1:30 After school activities!

Every student has an after school activity they choose (soccer, field hockey, mountain biking, music, art, etc.) My activity is After-School Art.

7:30 Study hall time!


Every boarding student needs to be in their room at 7:30 ready to study!
My plans were to read my book and write my next assignments for the week in my planner 🙂

Working A Summer Job

By Lillybeth Randall ’22

“Why would you want to do that and waste your summer?” is probably what goes through every kid’s mind when they find out that one of their friends tells them that they have a summer job or their parents suggest that they should look for a summer job. At least that’s what went through mine, but now I’m an employee of two years at Taber’s Restaurant and Mini-Golf and couldn’t be happier with my decision.

But really, why would I waste my summer, working? Personally, I love to shop, – who doesn’t? – but I can’t really shop without money so that’s where having a job comes in handy because it supplies me with the money that I would need to purchase unnecessary things. All jokes aside, having a little extra money in my back pocket is pretty great. Not only does the shopping feel great, but getting the check, and knowing that you worked hard for the money instills work ethic into our young minds. Pretty soon we’ll be graduating and we’ll be thrown out into the real world and we need things to prepare us for that. We need to know that nothing is just given to us, it’s earned through hard work.

Hope

A reflection of the softball season by Kaila Mank ’21

If you ever lose hope in something it will never happen. Hope is when you have a desire for something to happen. People who have a lot of hope, achieve more in life because if you hope for something you have more desire to make it happen. Although even if you have hope for something, that doesn’t mean it will always come true. There are some things we can control, and after you realize that you leave more room for other things you can hope for. Have you ever hoped for something so much and you know other people are hoping for the same thing,  but it doesn’t happen? This was my softball season. My whole team worked really hard, and we all lifted our spirits and hoped to win game after game, but it didn’t happen for us.

Game Day:

Mercy rule 0-21; we knew if we wanted to have a successful season we were going to have to work harder. We had two weeks to have long hard practice days to prove that we wanted to win more than any of those other teams.

Game Day:

On the way down you could feel the energy in the bus although it was as quiet as owls awaiting their prey. As soon as we entered the bus you felt every single heart drop deeper and deeper into the back of the chairs as we drove away. Mercy rule again 1-21.

Practice:

Hope is high. Energy is restored. We had two days. Sprint, catch, pitch, hit. Repeat. Two long days and we were ready. 

Game Day: 

A week later after two other games had been lost, we had high spirits and pushed through. We knew this was it, we were going to win on our turf and this one was for us. Kents Hill arrived, energy lifted. Ringing that victory bell our team had gotten closer than ever before.10-5, we did it, it was at that point nothing could bring us down. We knew we had it in us, we just had to push for it.

Practice:

After a season of disappointment but close games, it was time for the semi-final game. Sitting together as a team a day before the game, we knew what we had to do right, and how hard we had to work if we really wanted it. It was at the moment that I had seen hope in everyone, even the coaches because we knew we could do it.

Game Day:

It was an amazing start to a game that we had so much hope toward winning, we were winning until the third inning when we had too much faith in ourselves and we let our guard down. When it came around to the fifth inning we were losing but had a chance to come back, and could make it. They ended the game in the middle of the fifth for another mercy rule 13-25. The second the umps called the game you could feel how heavy the air got on your shoulders as if you were being pulled to the ground. 

That bus ride home from Gould was silent. All you could hear were the bubby roadways rubbing the tires underneath the bus. There was disappointment all around. Although despite the long and sorrowful ride home, once we were back on campus we had to let all of the disappointment go. “Good game” was being passed around. Even with no championship, I have never been part of a more supportive team filled with so much hope during bad games and even practices that can bounce back from the season we had to focus on not what’s behind us but what’s ahead.

Teammates celebrating Samantha Gumprecht’s ’20 homerun