Study Hall Overhaul

Library area is busy during SMART Lunch.

Library area is busy during SMART Lunch.

The 2016-2017 school year brings many changes to Kennedy High School, among them the addition of a seventh period in the regular school day. While students may choose to take a full seven-class day, countless others have opted for the simpler option: a study hall.

The overwhelming increase of students in study halls this school year resulted in a policy change for student release forms. In the past, seniors alone could be released from any period study hall, whereas juniors and sophomore release was limited to first and sixth hour (the first and last periods of the day).

This school year, however, release during any period is open to juniors as well as seniors.

The students on release must find somewhere to go and not every student feels the need to leave campus. “I am a T.A. [teacher assistant] for Senora Neilly, but I go to the library a lot,” Tayler Rathjens, sr., said.

The library is a popular spot for release students, with certain periods containing upwards of 30 students in the library on release from study hall. The amount of students in the IMC is so immense that Lesa Neff, the librarian, stopped offering library passes to study hall students. Students in a study hall who wish to be in the library must get a pass from their teacher.

Yet, despite the influx of students in study halls (and what this means for staff and space), many students appreciate the added hour in the day, even if they fill it with a study hall. “One study hall is a good idea for students who are in sports or show choir… Most students are using it to get their work done so they don’t have to do it after school,” Neff said.

Sam Bennett, a heavily-involved junior, finds study halls extremely beneficial. “I think it will positively impact students because they will have more study opportunities, more time to de-stress, or even go out and get lunch if they have to, if they didn’t have time,” Bennett said. 

The benefits of a study hall for students are severely diminished by the location of the student. Those students on release, even those opting to stay on campus, may want to stay away from their assigned study hall, as the noise levels and overcrowding (especially in the cafeteria) may be a real problem. Students report being seated directly next to one another — something unheard of in past years.

“I usually plan ahead and tell myself that I am going to get all of my homework done during it [study hall], but I never do. It is usually too loud for me to focus,” Ferin Bergen, jr., said.

While the only place on campus available for release students to study is the IMC (or in their assigned study hall), there are other options to help reduce overcrowding. Students may consider teacher assisting for a favorite teacher, or running passes for attendance.

With shorter class periods, students may find it hard to make it too far from the school on release time, but heading home for a half hour is more than doable for most students, as is grabbing a quick bite to eat at a nearby food establishment.