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Let’s Make Senior Study Halls History

High school is a time for students to develop into young adults while preparing for the next phase of their lives. High schoolers can have a lot on their plate at times, from attending classes, doing homework and projects, participating in extracurricular activities, preparing for standardized testing, and the list can go on. One of the most ineffective courses that high schools provide is a study hall period. These designated periods give students the opportunity to catch up on studying, work on homework, and complete projects and such. However, in many schools now, including Nutley High School, seniors are not allowed to leave the campus during their study hall periods. This limits their growth and independence. 


Most high school students are between the ages of 17-18 and are basically considered adults, if not young adults, and deserve more freedom and responsibility, especially during study hall periods. Most seniors and even juniors have cars and their driver’s license by this time and are more than capable of leaving school on their own. This freedom will give them more of a real world experience as well. Releasing seniors during their study halls will give them a chance to pursue their interests, explore volunteer or job opportunities, and even get more sleep. Most seniors are involved in part-time jobs and extracurricular activities outside of school so this extra time can help them in many ways. Even getting an extra hour of sleep can make a huge difference in the rest of their day. Studies have shown that students are not getting enough sleep and this lack of sleep can have detrimental impact on their academic performance and overall well-being, so this extra time in the morning or extra time during the day can make a huge impact. High school students often don’t eat breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day. In addition, students rush to get to school on time. Seniors can take this time to make breakfast at home or get breakfast which can better kick start their day. 


Study hall periods are often viewed as a waste of time by seniors because they aren’t allowed to leave the school campus. At NHS, students must leave their phones in the classroom while they go to the bathroom which is a  lack of freedom. These are students that mostly can drive cars or even vote, but their personal belongings have to stay in the classroom while they use the restroom. Allowing seniors to leave school during their study halls can increase motivation and even engagement in school. This control over how they spend their time can make them overall content students and more well-rounded. 


Of course, there are safety and liability concerns that must be addressed for this freedom for students. The school should require seniors and their parents/guardians to sign a waiver about their whereabouts during their free time. Letting people in and out of the school nowadays can be a concern, but NHS students can easily use their school ID to enter the building and have staff on duty for security. The school can also require students to meet certain academic and behavioral requirements to have this privilege. Having regulations like such can create a proactive and productive environment for students. 


It is shown that high school seniors deserve the opportunity to leave the campus during study hall periods. The benefits outweigh any other reason they shouldn’t be able to. It gives students the chance to explore their interests, be productive, develop real-world skills that will prepare them for college and their future in general. This freedom and time can increase motivation and engagement in class for students and can improve their academic performance. It’s time for high schools to start considering what is best for students and give seniors the freedom and responsibility they deserve.