This article is an editorial.
By: Greg Diette
For the first time in years, CT-20 and Centennial Hall are not packed with freshman and sophomores during fifth period. After years of debate, the Administration decided to create a new system for study hall, known as “the pod system.” “Trying to figure out a way to make better use of a pretty big chunk of time for 5th period,” was the reasoning Headmaster Henry Smyth followed in helping to create the pod system. He concluded that, “throwing everybody into two big rooms was probably not the best way for students to get work done.”
Each pod is comprised of freshmen and sophomores from a handful of advisories, proctored by a rotating group of their advisors. Similar to the middle-school’s homeroom study hall, the Administration believes that smaller groups will foster a more productive atmosphere that could not exist in grade-wide study halls. Some students, however, fear that this new system will ruin the potential for class unity that was gained through the large group study hall.
Though seen as a productive new concept from the Administration, the feedback from students is quite contrasting. Leo Morton (‘19) expressed his dislike of the pod system by saying, “I can never get work done when I want to do group work. I have to ask my proctor, who often says no, when last year I could simply sit near my group.” The system can be portrayed as flawed, when it comes to group productivity. On the other hand Frank McGurkin (‘19) admitted, “I get a lot more work done in the new pods.”
Avery Merlo (‘19), a new student to Gilman in eighth grade argued, “I didn’t really know that many people coming into ninth grade but study halls in CT-20 brought me closer together with my other classmates. But when I needed to, I could buckle down and get work done.”
Large group study hall is a tradition that is deeply imbedded in Gilman’s history. Dean Boo Smith (‘72) recalled memories of study halls spent in Centennial Hall when he was a student.
In my opinion, the biggest flaw with the system is loss of bonding in the current freshmen class. Other future grades that will have to partake in the new pod system will certainly not be as close as others in the past. While Mr. Aaron Goldman argues, “Study hall is place to get work done and nothing else. Our students have so much on their plate with sports, rehearsals, etc., that study hall should be as productive as possible.” For me, study hall was so much more. Study hall is a place where memories are made and grades can unite.
According to Archivist, Ms. Johanna Schein, all students who passed through the Gilman ninth grade in the last fifty years, could probably tell you funny or crazy stories from their CT-20 fifth period study hall days. As Leo Morton (‘19) said, “I used to really look foward to study hall. I saw it as a place where our class really came together, but the new system definitely discourages that.”
Frank McGurkin offered a new idea that could combine the old and the new systems: he suggested “A couple times a cycle we could go back to full grade study halls in CT-20 and Centennial Hall, incorporating both types of study hall.”
For me, CT-20 was an environment that encouraged class unity. If the Administration wants to defend the motto of “One Gilman,” or a united student body, they should take steps to do so with the first one being to reinstitute large group study hall.