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Not-so-typical spring breaks
Not everyone gets the week off
April 25, 2023
If you ask students about their spring break, most will tell you the same old story: spent time with family, travelled to this beach, hung around the house, took a break from school stuff. But many students here at RV spend their breaks doing vastly different things, from religious celebrations to grinding away at practice to setting up their future. The Student Life crew investigated some unusual spring break plans to hear how other students spent their week.
Beyond the beach
College-bound students use spring break to focus on their future
As spring break neared, many college-bound students had a different agenda than their peers. Instead of sunbathing on the beach or sleeping in, they spent their break researching and visiting potential colleges.
“Over spring break, I will decide which college I will commit to,” said senior Kayla Reed. Instead of vacationing, she intended to spend spring break choosing the college best fit for her. Prior to spring break, she visited many college campuses all across the country. Kayla has gained acceptance into universities in and outside New Jersey.
But college is not cheap.
“I will also spend my time searching for scholarships to reduce the cost,” said Reed.
Earning online scholarships is not easy and scholarships that thoroughly cover the costs are harder to achieve. The average high school senior is only able to obtain about $2,000 in scholarships. This is astonishing considering that an estimated $100M in scholarships go unawarded every year. But Kayla is assured to make it work.
While it may seem like a daunting way to spend spring break, taking time to research and visit colleges can help students find the right school for them. But there is plenty more research that needs to be done than searching on a computer, like being on the physical campus.
“Over spring break, I plan on going on college visits.” Said junior Malachi Castle, his Rutgers keychain swinging side to side. “I plan on visiting Rutgers, Boston University and Penn State.” His top pick is Rutgers, but he plans on playing football for any college. Hopefully earning an athletic scholarship.
Athletic scholarships are highly competitive and only 1% of high school student-athletes receive a full-ride scholarship. That number drops lower for D1 schools. Since Castle is a varsity player on RV’s football team, he has a solid chance.
Visiting campuses is a fundamental part of the process. It is good to get a feel of the school and see if you like it. Spring break is the perfect time for this as school’s out and cross-country road trips can be made. Of course, if the campus is too far, or disrupts plans for break, a good alternative is a virtual visit.
Castle also looked forward to crafting his essay. While writing an essay seems like an anti-climatic thing to do during a holiday, a well-crafted essay can take the cake. To colleges, an essay shows who the applicant really is and their backstory.
While many students spent their spring break relaxing, RV’s college-bound students took it as a time to focus on their futures. The college process is a lot of work, and spring break is the perfect time to prepare for it.
Breaking the fast
This year, many Muslim students saw spring break as a reprieve from daily life throughout Ramadan
It’s fifth block the day before spring break. The only thing left to do is stare at the clock until it hits 2:27. The sound of the bell unleashes RV’s student body, eager to get the load of school off their minds for 10 whole days. That starts the precious spring break for this year.
For many students, spring break may be a time of worship. In New Jersey, it usually corresponds with the holiday of Easter. This year, students of other religions will additionally have occasions during spring break. For Muslim students specifically, they have been observing the holy month of Ramadan since March 23.
In a PBS article from March 2023, “Ramadan is a period of fasting and spiritual growth and is one of the five ‘pillars of Islam. Able-bodied Muslims are expected to abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn to sunset each day of the month. Many practicing Muslims also perform additional prayers, especially at night, and attempt to recite the entire Quran. The Quran is the holy book of the islamic faith. Just as the bible is for the Christian faith, the quran is a Muslim’s guide in life. The prevailing belief among Muslims is that it was in the final 10 nights of Ramadan that the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.”
Ramadan never falls at the same time each year. This is the second or third spring break where Ramadan is being observed.
“With it being Ramadan, my family and I don’t do very active things during spring break these years,” said sophomore Souhaila Daoudi. “Instead, we spend it doing relaxing activities as a family and going to the mosque. The masjid (mosque) is the prayer center for Muslims.”
There is no eating or drinking through the day, so the observing Muslims tend to be tired through the day.
“When there is school, it is very hard to get up in the morning,” said sophomore Jaidaa Elgewili. “Now that there is no school, I can sleep when I need to, and I don’t feel too tired. Definitely very grateful for the break.”
In predominantly Muslim countries and muslim private schools, students don’t have school during Ramadan. “Even if we don’t get the whole Ramadan off, it’s nice to get these ten days off,” said freshman Nazifa Hassan. “I am now able to focus more on getting closer to my religion since there is no school work.”
Most practicing Muslims believe that Ramadan is the time to get closer to their religion, and they should pray and read the Quran as much as they can.
“I have also been able to read the Quran more since the break has started,” Daoudi said. The same statements were made by Elgewilli and Hassan.
“I feel that because it is Ramadan, my spring break is more productive,” said Hassan. “I am using my spring break to do religious activities instead of being on my phone all day. If it wasn’t Ramadan, I would have been very lazy.”
Spring break is also giving the Muslim students the opportunity to participate in traditions related to Ramadan.
“Now that I don’t have to worry about getting my homework done, I can help set the Iftar table with my mom,” said Junior Fahmida Fariha. Iftar is the name of the meal Muslims eat to break their fast during Ramadan.
Elgewilli also added, “I have younger siblings, and now that I am home, I am able to teach them about Ramadan and our religion.”
Many students who observe Ramadan are grateful that they are on break, as it is often needed so they can rest and complete their religious responsibilities.
No days off
Spring break? Not for student athletes.
During spring break, many students enjoy a week of relaxation and time away from stressful school work. However student athletes have an added layer of responsibility in the form of their games and practices that occur during spring break.
And having games and practices during spring break leaves many student athletes at RV unhappy.
“We had a meet on Thursday after school and I had one on Saturday as well,” said sophomore track runner Kendra Green. “ I’m going to a dual meet on Wednesday and other meets on Friday and Saturday”
With this jam-packed schedule, Green spent half of her spring break participating in track meets. However, Green did necessarily mind.
“I like the meets and all but they can take the whole day and there is a lot of running around, especially if you have several events,” she said. “But they are pretty fun.”
Participating in track meets can get tiring with all the running around track takes, especially for the athletes who have multiple events to participate in. Despite this, many athletes still find the meets enjoyable.
Another Track Player that shares this sentiment is Milena Otoo.
“I have three meets over the break,” Otoo said. “It makes me happy because I get to show off my talents.”
Track was not the only sport that was active over spring break. Track was not the only sport that was active over Spring Break. According to Mr. Michael Lamb, the Director of Athletics at RV, softball, baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and golf were all in action.
“[Each team is] active everyday either games or practices,” said Mr. Lamb. “No days off for these student athletes.”
During spring break, there were 70 games, practices or scrimmages between these seven teams. This amount of time taken up leaves many athletes with a certain question: “What would happen if I just do not go to a game or practice?”
Participating in sports requires a lot of commitment and enthusiasm. An athlete can only grow and improve if they engage in the games and practices. Attendance can also effect which athletes get to play in future games and meets.
“If you don’t attend the meets, then you will most likely not be put into future meets,” said sophomore Xiani Mejia.
Lacrosse player and sophomore Tess Phillips collaborates this sentiment.
“The punishment for not going to the games is usually getting benched. [Benched means being sat out of a game],” she said.
While being active in sports over spring break may not be some people’s idea of a break. It allows for athletes to have a time to stay active and improve their skills.
The summer preview
While many students play, businesses and downtown Mt. Holly see growing demand
Every spring break, students of all ages are let out of the confines of their normal schedules to make the most of their free week. While some families use this time to get away from their hometowns and enjoy luxury vacations, others prefer to relax in their homes. With the majority of their day now being free, these students who stay home must find ways in which to occupy themselves. This leads many to explore their downtown shops.
The shops and restaurants of downtown Mount Holly have just experienced a taste of what customer base they will be seeing when summer is here, school is out and the weather is sunny and warm.
“As soon as spring break hits, our daytime business picks up because generally we are a night time business,” said Vincent Amico, the owner of Vincent’s Ice Cream shop on High Street. “After work, after school, but during spring break everyone is off. Some people take vacations but the kids are off and when the kids are off they end up coming to buy ice cream.”
Amico says that he notices an uprising in families coming in to buy ice cream as well as a younger crowd coming during the day. This results in not only an uptick in their consumer bases but also a change in when their customers come to buy.
“You have a younger crowd coming during the day,”Amico said. “We actually have a younger crowd coming period because they show up at night too.”
While some businesses notice these types of changes occurring during the week of spring break, others don’t notice much of a difference especially if their customer base is of an older variety. Some, such as Linda Smith, the owner of Endless Treasures in Millrace, says that the uptick in business during the week is often unpredictable.
“I tend to get a lot more college students browsing around, but it’s very unpredictable although I have an age group of probably from 18-mid twenties coming in on a regular basis,” she said. “It’s really hard to tell [whether business will increase] because business is very unpredictable since covid but I am hoping for at least a 15% increase.”
Melanie Wilbur, the owner of Cerridwen’s Hearth, notices the same patterns as Smith. She also relates that business is quite unpredictable but for an alternative reason: weather.
“I don’t really see much of a difference here in Millrace,” she said. “Our people come and we’ll have an uptick in kids and families usually but other than that, not really much difference. A lot of the time around here, since they are all walking shops, it really just depends on the weather. If the weather is nice, well get more people out and about but I don’t think it’s too impactful one way or another.”
There are a variety of factors that come into play when considering whether or not owners experience differences in their business during the week of spring break. These include but are not limited to weather, type of business, location, typical demographic as well as customer base in general. However, business owners are bound to see an uptick in customers over the course of the week due to kids actually having time to explore the amenities of their hometown.