This article is an editorial.
By: Tyler Witherspoon
When I think about fourth period study hall, the first thing that comes to my mind is rest. I’m given the opportunity to sit in a room for forty minutes, doing nothing but staring at my computer screen and wandering aimlessly through websites. The time is neither productive nor helpful towards my education, serving only as an escape from the long school day. I share these feelings on fourth period study hall with many other members of the sophomore class.
Many sophomores see fourth period study hall as a break from their prior three classes. Their minds have been fried from Gilman’s rigorous academic curriculum, and the only thing on their mind is playing games or watching Netflix. The majority of the class is in study hall because they are forced to be there, not because they are prepared to work. Logan Paff (‘19) said, “[Fourth period] study hall can be a number of things. It’s either a time for you to hang around with your friends and chill, or it’s a time to attempt to get some work done.” Paff recognizes the unproductivity of fourth period study hall experienced through - out much of the sophomore class. While there may be a few kids in the room that are able to get some work done during the short forty minutes, that number is far less than the kids who are slacking off and doing nothing. Paff continued to talk about the productivity of students in the study hall, explaining, “People tend to play more games than to do work, that being said, only a few do actual work.” Through my experience, the overall feeling of fourth period study hall is one of laughter and jokes, causing a distracted work environment for the few dedicated students.
In line with the students’ view of fourth period study hall, proctor Mr. Larry Sheets affirms these issues. When asked if he would be interviewed for The News about fourth period, Mr. Sheets declined, laughing at my initial question. On the contrary, Mr. Aaron Goldman, Dean of Students, was quite happy with study hall, stating, “As with any study hall, I have had both positive and negative experiences. However, the positive benefits of study hall far outweigh the isolated negative experiences.” I have not seen much of the positivity that Mr. Goldman notes. Students careless attitudes and reckless actions that have continued over the past few months have shown me the productivity of fourth period has dropped dramatically, indicating it is not a beneficial use of a student’s time. When asked about this, Sophomore Simon Warfield said, “There have been multiple instances where I was in study hall and kids were yelling and talk- ing back to Mr. Sheets. Sometimes people even play music out loud. I haven’t been able to get work done and neither have many others” This highlights the problems myself and many others have seen with this study hall, and, contrary to Mr. Goldman’s thoughts, it is not an effective use of time. I believe it is time to pose the question: Is fourth period study hall really worth it?
One possible alternative to the un- productive and distracting study hall is providing a free fourth period for the sophomore class. The jump from freshman to sophomore year provides no added privileges for the one year high school veterans, and a free fourth period could provide a small but rewarding prize. It would allow for the students who want to do work to find a quiet and non-distracting work area, while also allowing the many others a time to relax and have fun during the day. This heightened privilege of a free period would also come with a greater responsibility for the sophomore class to use their time wisely. Nonetheless, I believe as sophomores, we are mature and sensible enough not to abuse this freedom. When asked if sophomores could handle a fourth period free, Pa stated, “I think that we could handle a free period. I would understand having guidelines, such as staying on campus, but it would be a good way to give sophomores some privileges.” I believe this freedom will be more beneficial to the sophomore class as a whole, allowing for a choice on handling their free time.