The lack of daily study hall puts students at a disadvantage


Rushing into class, coffee cups in hand on Thursday mornings, most Shawnee Mission students don’t stop to think about how they’ll use their only study hall time later that day. With three seven-period days and one 50-minute seminar on one of two block days, NW students are left with barely any time to reduce the workload in their busy lives.

Blue Valley, Olathe and De Soto schools all allow a daily study hall time, giving students a chance to meet with teachers, get ahead on homework and make up missed tests. While NW’s seminar period attempts to serve this purpose, the function of TCB has little to do with studying. We are surprised that anyone sees a significant benefit to a once a week study hall. Think what we could accomplish if we had seminar every day. Their occurrence simply is not enough to benefit students in the intended way.

A research project conducted by graduate students at Saint Xavier University in 2008 indicated that homework is the number one cause of stress in households where students have difficulty finding academic support. As a result, many schools are returning to daily study halls in an effort to reduce homework-related stress. In one study, 47 students participating in a guided study hall experienced a 4 percent increase in homework completion, going from 92 percent to 96 percent of homework being finished. Another study was conducted at John Paul II Catholic School. In a group of 77 students, 71 percent of students and 80 percent of coaches agreed that study hall helped performance in school. After the implementation of a mandatory study hall at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School in California, the school’s average GPA increased almost half a grade point. Research makes it clear that study halls are beneficial for high schoolers, so why haven’t they become a daily part of the lives of NW students?

Shawnee Mission is the only district in the Johnson County area that doesn’t allow time for a daily study hall or advisory period. Mill Valley High School has a 40-minute seminar at the end of each day. Olathe South High School has implemented a daily “Falcon 50” advisory period, in which students attend one of two 25-minute lunches, then visit teachers or finish homework during the other 25 minutes. Blue Valley High School incorporates a similar study hall opportunity in their “Tiger Paws” time.

“Tiger Paws is an hour break for lunch after fourth hour,” BVHS freshman Charlie Trent said. “Students can get help from teachers, go to club meetings, get help in the library, play sports and eat lunch.”

Northwest and the other Shawnee Mission high schools do not have a specified study period every day. Instead, a block schedule on Wednesdays and Thursdays leaves students with a single 90-minute period to catch up on work and to visit teachers each week. With all that in mind, junior Catie Wood thinks that an everyday study hall would be a positive addition for students.

“I think a seminar every day would be beneficial, but I would hope it wouldn’t come out of our class time,” Wood said. “What would be the most ideal is if we just had block days every day.”

Some students, however, disagree that a study hall would be beneficial. Sophomore Samantha Mudgett is among those who believe this.

“In my opinion, I feel like a study hall every day would just cram teachers and their time to teach,” Mudgett said. “They would still be trying to cover the same material just in a shorter class period. I think as an idea, it sounds like it would be really beneficial to students, but no matter what, students will still be cramming at the end of class to obtain and understand all of the course material.”

SMSD being the only district in the area without a daily study period speaks for itself. Study halls have been proven time and time again to boost students’ grades and help them stay on top of things in their busy lives. By shortening each passing period by one minute and adding at least 10 minutes to the beginning or end of the school day, a 50-minute study hall could be worked in. Shawnee Mission students would ultimately benefit from this extra study time.