That item, along with the phrase “Do you need a pass?” is now officially an artifact of the past now that most ninth-graders have been released from study hall this semester, joining the tenth graders in free periods.
Under the new study hall policy, tenth graders are no longer obligated to attend study hall, and most freshmen only have to attend study hall in their first semester.
Most students recalled using their study halls productively before the change. As a consequence of her productivity during the day, Lilly Delise ‘20 commented, “I would have barely any work when I came home from school.” Sydney Hirsch ‘19, who had study halls throughout ninth and tenth grade, added, “I always had to get work done because I had practice really late aferwards.” Rachel Hagani ‘18 recalled that “I used to get all my work during study halls. I looked forward to them so much.”
Other students described study hall to be an unproductive work environment. “I’d do something I hadn’t done the night before and stress about fnishing it. Honestly, I didn’t always work; sometimes I’d watch Netfix or do online shopping,” said one member of the class of 2020, who wished to remain anonymous.
“In study halls last year, I worked like three-quarters of the time and talked with friends and hung out for the rest. Some proctors were very strict, but most of them would let us talk a little bit,” said Phil Delise ‘20.
Liz Bamgboye ‘20 agreed that study halls were not the ideal environment for her, “In study halls, I couldn’t really work that effectively because it was quiet. I hated the silence. I would get some work done, but afterward, I would sit and stare into abyss.”
Now that they have free periods instead of study halls, some sophomores described still upholding productive work habits, while others engaged in different activities. “With G and H free, I can get a ton of stuff done. It’s a lot easier to meet with my teachers, and I have a lot less homework this year,” said Aisling Kelly ‘20. When students have multiple blocks free, some do different activities during different times of the day. “I have two free periods each day. In one I work, and in one I just hang out. But I still don’t have that much homework when I get home from school,” said Phil Delise ‘20.
Leah Miller ‘20 said, “I do different work during each of my frees. F block, I’m doing work in Heath. G block is for fun, usually hanging out in Lovell. H block is for extracurriculars; I work on lines or help Hope [Hopkins’s theater instructor] with something in Lovell.”
“During my frees this year I either go to the lower library or lift,” said Gunnar DeSantis ‘20. Even though he says he gets less homework done during the day, the work does not pile up at home, he said, “I have less homework than I had last year. I don’t know why.”
Some underclassmen worry about the consequences of being unproductive during free periods. “I have trouble forcing myself to get any work done during free periods because there are so many other things I can do,” said Michelle Medina ’18. “Students maybe feel pressure with homework at home this year because they come home with a lot more work left than they used to, when they did most of it at school.”
Other students identifed another consequence of free periods throughout high school has been over-crowding. “Heath is super loud and packed during G block, because middle-schoolers aren’t allowed to go to the gym anymore,” said Courtney Banks ’20. “So then people go to the library and that gets loud too.”
Ninth graders, who had study halls first term and now have free periods, have begun to adjust to the change. “I’m just as productive as I was with free periods,” said John Aslanian ‘21, “though sometimes I go to the gym, or go online.” “Sometimes, with smaller study halls, I spent a lot of time socializing, while in bigger ones like in B8, I worked. Now that I have frees, I usually go to the library and use a computer to study. I go downstairs, because there are a lot of people in the upper library. I’m more productive during G block than in my other frees,” said Jack Keeley ‘21.
New freshman Yash Thakur ‘21 commented, “Now with frees, I am still productive for the most part. It’s easier to get distracted, but I don’t have a lot of time at home, so I try to get my homework done now.”
Senior Mentors were asked to proctor study halls all year in lieu of faculty proctors, hearkening back to the Day Prospect Hill (the girls’school counterpart to Hopkins) tradition of senior girls leading classes and study halls of younger students. Senior Mentors asked to proctor were generally positive about their experiences.“It was a valuable experience to learn the line between letting the kids talk and being strict,” said Zander Blitzer ‘18.
Overall, middle-school stayed productive in their free periods and had a similar workload at home with the reduced homework policy. As Aslanian ‘21 said, “If you stay productive, you can get almost all of your homework done at school.”