The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Mount Carmel benefits from trimesters

(Mount Carmel Social Media – Ellie Menke)
Students cheer on their classmates during a Spirit Week activity. Mount Carmel has introduced several unique features to cater towards the male brain and work around events such as this one. The trimester schedule happens to be one of them.

Final exams are tough. Whenever that week of drawn out tests comes around, students are under stress to study and stay on top of their work. 

Something that the administration at Mount Carmel prides itself on is teaching to the male brain. Teachers are actively trying to get their students engaged in their work through non-static methods such as throwing a tennis ball in class or using a rotating schedule.

So while a majority of schools in Chicago use a quarter or semester schedule, Mount Carmel uses a trimester schedule instead. 

Trimesters benefit teachers and students at MC when it comes to teaching in an all male environment, athletic schedules, and final exams.

“About fifteen years ago, when I was the director of admissions, we made the switch to trimesters,” said Bill Nolan, MC vice principal. “We realized it fit with our focus on how boys learn. It went along with teaching the male brain.”

One of the focuses at MC’s open houses every fall is a segment on how boys learn differently. Male students perform very well when it comes to spatial processing and motor speed. However, female students outperform males when it comes to memorization. 

So having three twelve-week trimesters rather than two eighteen-week or so semesters just fits MC guys better. Compacting lessons and classes into these shorter time periods allows boys to learn more efficiently. 

“Teaching at Mount Carmel has been my first experience with the trimester schedule,” said history and economics teacher Mr. Tony Vazquez. “Almost right away I realized that it was beneficial for the boys because of the timing of the breaks in between trimesters.”

While most schools have their first set of final exams right before or after their Winter Break, MC has theirs right before Thanksgiving. 

“I think having a break in between the start of the year and Winter Break allowed me to be more organized,” said Mr. Vazquez. “Having that organization also helps us guys in general. I believe our time frame with these shorter trimesters works well with the male brain.”

Having a more compact schedule goes along with MC’s value of teaching differently in an all male setting. 

Mount Carmel’s athletic schedule is broken up with fall, winter, and spring seasons. Having three trimesters that closely line up with these athletic schedules is a nice bonus for student-athletes and coaches.   

While Mr. Vazquez teaches many AP classes and is focused on preparing his students for their exams in May, he was also a baseball coach for MC a few years ago. 

“We would usually have tryouts either before or after Trimester 2 Exams,” he said. “It was nice to have an end to winter sports and move onto spring sports in the third trimester.”

While it’s not necessary to have the academic and athletic schedules line up with each other, it is nice to have closure to certain sports around the same time final exams take place. 

Students took their Trimester 1 Final Exams this past fall, and the varsity football team won the state championship almost exactly a week later. 

“That’s definitely a pretty solid aspect of being on trimesters,” said senior Alec Padilla. “The transition between seasons in general like winter and spring, exams, and sports all go well together. It’s a nice transition period.”

While there are more final exams with a trimester schedule, having to deal with less information in preparation for such major exams is beneficial for students, particularly as society is growing more mindful of teen mental health and the stress and anxiety that academics can add to a kid’s life. 

“Teaching to boys’ strengths is something we focus on a lot at Mount Carmel,” said Mr.  Nolan. “Having less information to cover on a final exam is something that works well with boys.”

Mr. Nolan’s point about having less information on a final exam goes back to how males lack in the skill of memorization compared to females. So having a more condensed exam is beneficial for MC students. 

“I like how we have finals right around Thanksgiving,” said freshman Aaron Hyler. “I’m still pretty new to trimesters but it definitely feels like my teachers aren’t cramming in any lessons or new information before we take our exams.”

The trimester schedule at MC has been proven to be a beneficial factor in an all-boys school. 

Along with having several other benefits such as final exams and lining up with the athletic schedule, students seem to enjoy the schedule as well. 

“I’d say we have a pretty good schedule,” said Hyler. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?”

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About the Contributor
Matthew Malloy ‘25
Matthew Malloy ‘25, Staff Writer
Matthew Malloy is a junior at Mount Carmel High School. He resides in the Southside of Chicago in the Beverly neighborhood and attended St. John Fisher Elementary School. Matt is currently a member of the student council, The Merchant, varsity golf team, varsity volleyball team, and the Caravan Media Group in which he is the play by play announcer for all home football and basketball games. As for academics, Matt is in the top 10 for the class of 2025. He first gained interest for journalism by watching ESPN’s College GameDay and reading The Beverly Review. His favorite sports commentators are Dick Vitale, Gus Johnson, Ray Clay, and Jim Nantz. As for favorite sports teams, Matt likes the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Manchester United F.C., Chicago Bears, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and his favorite golfers are John Daly, Bryson DeChambeau, and Collin Morikawa. His favorite band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers and his favorite album is The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Matt’s favorite movies are Goodfellas and Asteroid City while The Office, Freaks and Geeks, and Friday Night Lights are his favorite TV shows. He and his cousins are continuing the tradition and legacy of the O’Connor family at Mount Carmel as he is the nephew of Dan O’Connor ‘95 and grandson of Frank O’Connor ‘61 and Kathy O’Connor, who works in the spirit store and is an avid supporter of Mount Carmel.