Eastside believes new study hall changes will benefit students


Vivian Rong ('23)

Students sit in Cafeteria 1 for study hall prior to new study hall changes.

Changes to study halls will begin with the start of the second semester on Monday, January 30. Students taking study halls will now be assigned to different classrooms instead of the cafeterias and the annex. There will still be opportunities to do collaborative work in the annex, but students will be required to sign out of their assigned classrooms if they would like to collaborate with students from other classrooms. One study hall class will have the annex as its classroom, so the annex will be split into two halves: one for the study hall class and the other for collaborative work for students from all study hall classes. Staff who had previous walker assignments and used to walk the halls will now be responsible for maintaining the desired study environment in the annex.

Eastside believes the changes to study halls will benefit Cherry Hill High School East students by offering a quiet environment for those who take study halls and need the time to do their work and concentrate.

Dr. Perry also gave insight into the reason for study halls taking place in the annex and cafeterias in the first place. Before online learning started due to COVID-19, East science teachers only taught four classes instead of the five classes assigned to all other subject teachers because they taught lab classes every Day 1, 2, 3 and 4. Before COVID-19, the Class of 2023 and those older than them experienced dedicating one lunch break every 6-day cycle to a lab science class. After students returned to school, science teachers no longer taught lab classes. They instead taught new science electives so as to teach an equal number of classes as other subject teachers. With the 25 new instructional blocks came limited classroom space for study halls to be in, so the study halls that were held in classrooms were moved to the annex and cafeterias.

Through the past two school years, however, there have been problems with students taking study halls in the cafeterias and the annex. Many students have been skipping study hall, arriving late, leaving early and wandering the hallways. Students often have no sense of urgency to get to their assigned study hall location. Even with the doors being locked, students would still leave or visit the cafeteria, some while skipping another class.

“The cafeteria became problematic for the teachers to supervise because there are so many exterior doors to the cafeteria,” said Perry.

Due to an insufficient number of substitutes, many students are also being relocated to the cafeterias when their teachers are absent. This creates an even more chaotic environment that makes it hard for study hall students who need a quiet area to complete their work.

“The casualness with which study halls have been approached is what we’re trying to tighten up a little bit,” said Perry. “We already have lunch-and-learn, which is an opportunity to get a little break in the day and catch up on meeting with your friends.”

The goal of the new change, having considered that study halls are not currently helpful environments for concentration, is to create a place where students who need to get their work done can do so.

“[Study hall] became an environment that was not really conducive to studying, which is what study halls are supposed to be. Study halls are supposed to be an opportunity for students to get work done, study, those kinds of things,” Perry said.

According to Perry, there was almost a unanimous vote among teachers in favor of changing study hall procedures. Addressing teachers’ voice in regard to the problems of study hall with this new implementation, Perry and East administration hope that the new change decreases the number of students arriving late to study hall. Teachers will also decide on the consequences for students who do not respect the changes for a more beneficial study hall environment on a case-by-case basis. For instance, if a student signs out of their classroom to go to the annex for collaborative work and signs in at the library after an absurdly long period of time, teachers will be able to deny that student’s privilege to go to the library annex in the future.

Eastside looks forward to seeing the execution of the new study hall changes and if the plan to increase study hall productivity comes to fruition.