Published Nov. 10, 2022
BY SOPHIA BONE
While open periods have become a staple for Carmel High upperclassmen for the last two years, the shift in available programs has left underclassmen with no study option throughout their day.
“There are kids who would benefit from having a study hall who are not at the point where they need academic support,” explains Marc Stafford, who teaches AVID, a class specifically designed to support students throughout their high school journey and guide them toward their college and career paths. “But they are also not at the point where they can manage all that they have going on.”
Time management is a skill that incoming freshmen must quickly acquire when beginning their high school career. In the past, CHS students relate that study hall made this transition easier for athletes as study hall replaced their Physical Education class. Now, not only is there no study hall option, but all freshmen must take a full year of PE, as do sophomores unless they participate in two sports.
Still, all underclassmen must take seven classes with no study option within their day.
“For underclassmen, it totally makes sense to have a study hall because they have to have seven classes and have no free space,” explains Steve Nacht, who teaches Math Tutorial, a math support class for freshmen, noting that while freshmen do not have overflowing work, there are certainly moments when they need time to catch up.
Teachers understand the benefits and drawbacks of study hall, most remembering that the class did serve an essential purpose for their students, but also realizing that an open period would most likely not be handled maturely by underclassmen.
“Younger students need the structure of a one-through-seven-period day where they are being seen by their teachers and have the support of the teachers,” explains Principal Jon Lyons.
While Stafford understands the benefits of having a study hall option, he also notes that a drawback of study hall was that it did take the spot of a student taking an elective course that would help them partake in a fuller academic workload, and administrators claim there have been no extreme cases of underclassmen struggling academically that can be directly attributed to lack of study hall.
The open-period model was added when the school realized that study hall was not viable as it was being offered. Since only certificated staff are allowed to supervise students during the school day, when the classified staff member who was in charge had to be replaced, that meant finding an individual who was qualified to teach a subject and who also must be compensated as such.
“You only have a certain number of full-time teachers, so do you really want to add one to the study hall class where they are not really teaching, just supervising?” questions assistant principal Craig Tuana.
Lyons decided the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“The resources that went to the study hall coordinator position, we turned that into the wellness outreach worker,” the fourth-year CHS principal explains. “So that is where that money went. It got moved to what we thought would be a better resource for students.”
According to Tuana, last year there were issues with the open period as students would often use the time to wander around campus, disturb classes or leave campus altogether. The assistant principal attributes that in part to unclear parking regulations that allowed students to sneak off campus easily. This year, he says, this has not been a problem.
Open periods are unique in their emphasis on independence and freedom–students do not have faculty checking in on them to make sure they are doing their work–so students must hold themselves accountable and know what they need to do.
“I can work at my own pace and can do what I want with my time,” says junior Sharon Sedillos, who has a free second period. “However, if I wanted to, I could just do nothing.”
While administrators say they eliminated the study hall option due to cost and overall need, CHS students and many teachers recognize that the class did have a positive effect on underclassmen who needed the time in their day to complete work.