Less Homework, More Learning: Why Urbana should have a study hall period


Photo courtesy of Bella Charoenying.

Christina Hance-Aloi, Reporter

The bell rings, and all the UHS students rush out of their classrooms. It’s study hall time. The period where students get access to one-on-one tutoring, or where they can study for the test coming up in the next block, maybe they forgot to do some of their homework the night before, because teachers tend to give a little too much, so they rip it out of their backpack and get to it. Then many students’ alarm clocks ring, because that simply isn’t reality for us.

…Though many wish it was. In fact, every other school in FCPS has already taken it upon themselves to implement a period for their students to receive one-on-one attention with teachers, or catch up on their work. These schools don’t call it a “study hall” though, they have their own terms for it. For example, Walkersville High School calls their period FLEX. The principal of Walkersville High, Stephanie Ware, describes the period as “a 35 minute block to allow for tutoring, extensions, club meetings and other academic supports; we also use time once a week from the FLEX block to imbed SEL [Social Emotional Learning] lessons.”

Simone Bryan, a sophomore at Walkersville High, describes the FLEX period as “very helpful to catch up on work or just to get a break”. A lot of students have to deal with the overwhelming anxiety of overdue assignments and figuring out ways to get home if they have to stay after school for tutoring, which leads them to not getting the help they need in order to be successful. With so many students taking high level classes at Urbana, it would be nice to have a designated time to work on schoolwork instead of sacrificing sleep and social time just to finish a few worksheets. 

Oakdale High School also has a period similar to FLEX but they call it Set. Cara Robell, a sophomore stated, “Set is super helpful because it’s in the middle of the day so I can either work on any homework I didn’t finish from the day before, study for tests in my upcoming blocks, or do homework from my first or second block”. Having such a block would ensure that UHS students are prepared and ready for tests, everyone forgets sometimes, and having that time can be very beneficial. 

I wanted to see what teachers thought about having a study hall, so I strolled the halls and ended up in Mr. Hayes’ room during his planning period. One of his points stood out:

“I think it would be a really good idea. Maybe […] once a week? I think that everyday would be a little too much, and that after a while […] people would sort of take it for granted, and it might be sort of a time sink. But if we did it once a week so kids had an opportunity to go and check in with their teachers, I think that would be a good idea. I don’t think everyday would be as productive as maybe having it once a week.”

— Mr. Hayes, teacher at Urbana High School

But a lot of students think that having a period everyday might even be more beneficial because of how much work they receive every single day from their teachers on top of extracurriculars, it’s really hard to keep up. A poll was launched on the @UHS_hawkeye Instagram to determine how the students felt, the question was simply if they wished Urbana had a 30 minute implemented period everyday for studying or one-on-one tutoring. With 145 votes counted, 89% voted yes (129 students) while only 11% (16 students) voted no. 

When I brought up these poll results to Ms. Donna Claubaugh, the Principal of Urbana, she told me that she had already been looking into it. Given her past experience as a principal, she already worked in other schools that offered the period. She agrees that it would be a good idea for Urbana because, “Kids have a lot of after school activities, so having time in the middle of the day to do a little bit of studying, or a little bit of homework, or be called to a teacher to get extra help, or even make up assignments, I think those things are all beneficial to students” The only thing that can affect how the study hall would turn out is in the hands of the students AND teachers. 

As she has seen in other schools, “Sometimes students abuse it when they’re called to a teacher, and they don’t go so they are cutting class. Sometimes adults don’t hold each other accountable, and they don’t send the student to the teacher that needs to see them, or they don’t call a kid that really needs help so adults can make mistakes in this situation too. So I think if we collectively as a school community say this is what we’re gonna do, and we are gonna follow this process, it could be very effective and helpful to students.” 

There’s lots of reasons why a study hall would be beneficial to us. Spending hours on homework every night should not be NORMAL for highschoolers. You should be able to maintain a social life, make memories, and enjoy life before you have to take on adult responsibilities. A break throughout the day where you can meet with your teachers, or prepare for your test next block, or even finish up your homework will help in a lot of ways. You should always prioritize yourself, and make sure school isn’t taking up too much of your life.