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Slack or Study? Seniors rate Senior Study

Controversy on whether or not Senior Study should come back for the 22-23 school year and beyond.

As of recently there has been talk in BHS whether the Senior Study program is a good use of time for our soon-to-be graduates. While this class has only been an option in our day-to-day schedules for 2 years, some believe that this class should not continue for the 23’ school year and beyond. This reason being how some believe Seniors choose to spend their time unproductively, or are trying to get out of taking more classes.

“Currently for Q4 we have 244 filled seats in senior studies blocks 1-4, and there is no limit to the amount of students who can join” said Counselor Shanlee Maher. Others see Senior Study as a great opportunity for building connections and independence, and catch up on things overall, whether that is school work, or last night’s sleep.

Senior Lily Gruye 22’ spends most of her time either accomplishing missing work in her online stats class, trying to be on track to graduate in June. She thinks that she uses her time productively on occasion, but other times it’s a different story. She wouldn’t be the only senior, however, that doesn’t exactly use senior study for it’s intended purpose.

“One day I walked into the library and someone was watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race on the big TV in the corner, meanwhile across the room kids were laying on the floor and on all couches, sleeping with the purple necklace that reads “senior” around their neck,” said Gruye. “If I could pick any block to have senior study, it would be Block 4, so I could leave school early.”

Librarian Marissa Russell says that she loves her job, and enjoys the opportunity she has to visit with students in the LLC. She works with kids spending their Senior Study in the library, kids coming in for a quiet lunch, and Peer Coaches tutoring. With kids spread out all over the LLC, Russell makes her rounds during the day to connect with each student individually. Even though senior study can get hectic, she thinks that it fulfills students’ needs. It provides an incredible opportunity for library staff and even other BHS staff to connect with students uniquely outside the classroom setting.

The conversations and interactions I’ve had with seniors the past two years here in the LLC have been priceless,” Russell said. “I enjoy the positive energy seniors bring to the library.”

Elise Beckman ‘22 has used her allotted Senior Study block different from most. While many seniors use this block to chill in the library either doing assignments from other classes or connecting with friends, Beckman has spent most of her Senior Study time at home, either in First or Fourth Block. While at home, Elise gets creative with how she chooses to spend her time. Beckman goes for a walk to pass the time at home, which got a lot more popular during the pandemic, but became less common when students started returning to the building.

“I would do a lot of different things during my senior study,” Beckman said. “For a while, I had a student that I was consistently peer coaching every day. Sometimes I would stay in the LLC & read or do homework, & sometimes I would just go home. When I was at home, I would do my homework, read, take a nap, go for a walk, etc. however, if I could choose any block I would pick Block 1, so I could sleep in.”

Some teachers believe senior study is not such a good idea, and it is impacting them personally, because seniors choose to have a “free” block instead of taking another period, so enrollment for their classes are down, and it is costing them their careers. Other teachers and staff believe that it is a great idea, and an option in the schedule that seniors in the future should be able to select just as our ‘21 and ‘22 seniors have been able to. Russell is one of those people.

“I am more than happy to have the seniors here in the LLC,” Russell said. “Senior Study provides students with a step toward independence, preparing them for next steps post high school. It encourages them to use their time in a way that can ultimately help them be more successful.” 

While some teachers and staff are more personally upset about BHS implementing this class into schedules, others take into consideration the wellbeing of the students, and wonder if the school could be doing better to celebrate or accommodate the seniors in the building. English Teacher Ryan McCallum stands behind this.

“Although I don’t believe that senior study is a bad thing,” McCallum said, “noticing how many students in our school are signed up for or plan on signing up for it in the future, makes me wonder if we could be doing better at making a more fun, engaging, and rewarding year for the seniors in our school, instead of having this class. It would be nice to see the school address the reasons why students would choose Senior Study over the options available to them.”

Some minds are wondering what exactly senior study was created for, why a senior may select this class; is this answer being students are worried about their GPA before heading into college? Are they trying to fill empty blocks in their schedule? Others are wondering how they can join too, and if there is a limit on students able to join based on popularity. Counselor Shanlee Maher has the answers.

I believe the reason students may join senior study is a mixture of all possibilities,” Maher said. “For so long, we didn’t have a Study Hall option and once COVID hit, we were forced into a situation where it was applicable. The feedback we received about Senior Studies was – it gave students ample time in their day to outweigh the 3 CIS/AP classes, and it gave other students the ability to sign up for classes they wanted to take and not ones they felt they were forced to take for lack of options once they got to senior year. When done well, senior studies are a great option for students who qualify. Seniors have to qualify for a senior study based on how many earned credits they have and a certain GPA at specific times in the year. If a student qualifies for a senior study, they have to get a permission slip signed by a parent/guardian verifying that is okay.”

When a senior has a free block, some decide to take up a new class while others decide to use their block to do homework for their difficult classes or make connections with their peers. There are mixed opinions on whether Seniors are using their time productively, and if this should be a continued offered class for years to come. No matter if you believe this class was a good idea or not, many seniors this year, and the year before, have appreciated the opportunity to have the choice of what they are completing in their free hour and a half of the school day.

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