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Study halls: Used or abused?

Tri-State districts have differing policies on study halls

Tri-State districts have differing policies on study halls

April 12, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Study hall has become a thing of the past at schools in Washington County and Berkeley County, W.Va., but it still is offered for at least some students in local Pennsylvania school districts, officials said in recent weeks.

Students in the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District have study hall in junior and senior high schools, but that could change, said Eric Michael, the school district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

"We are still running them ... but we are currently looking at the use of the time," he said.

The length of the study hall is about 45 minutes, Michael said.

Students in the Greencastle-Antrim (Pa.) School District have the option of making a 42-minute daily study hall part of their schedule, Greencastle-Antrim High School Principal Jack Appleby said.

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An increasing number of students are opting not to take study hall because taking other courses in its place might help them graduate earlier, Appleby said.

Officials with the Berkeley County and Washington County school systems said the time period in which students could study or work on homework has been phased out for two main reasons.

One is that as school systems changed the form of class scheduling, it was decided that it was more important that students take classes to meet graduation requirements than to have a study hall, they said.

The second reason cited by some officials is that not all students were using study hall for academic purposes.

"The attitude, I believe, was it was never really a time for serious application, a serious time to study or do your homework. But it was more of a time to perhaps relax for an hour than it was to really concentrate," said Paul W. Bailey, a Washington County Board of Education member who was a former school administrator in the county system.

Study hall was phased out in Washington County schools by the mid-1980s, he said.

"The idea was that the time was not productive," said Robert "Bo" Myers, principal of North Hagers-town High School. "They also began putting greater emphasis on additional credits for graduation."

Berkeley County schools have not had study hall for about 15 to 20 years, said Don Dellinger, principal of Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School.

Over time, graduation requirements increased, as did corresponding course work, and this left administrators looking for ways to give students more time in courses, he said.

In the study halls, some students would use the time to prepare for classes the next day, while others would use it as free time for other purposes, he said.

Susan Wall, principal of Jefferson High School in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., said a small percentage of students used to have study hall until about two or three years ago. Now, the school instead offers "study skills periods" for those students needing extra time to address educational problems such as a failing grade, she said.

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