An Abundance of Mediocrity

By Borden Exasperated

Following the first semester, I, having dropped the pursuit of eschool Trigonometry thanks to a college that does not require it, was given the gift of a study hall in the void where I had expected a blank period should be. This, my first foray into the world of Tremper High School’s study halls in all four years of my attendance, was nothing like I had expected the period to be. Instantly upon arrival, I was given the gruff instruction to “Sit down, everyone turn off your electronics. You can study, or you can sleep,” immediately followed by what can only be described as a fifty minute stretch of just that. What truly surprised me was the lack of any initiative or encouragement to do anything and general apathetic absence of any real resources that would aid the whole “study” part of “study hall” from my fellow students and the security guard who oversees said period.

The first thing you learn in the study hall of Tremper is that studying is really only present in title alone; absent are any real methods or programs that would actually help the student academically. Call me naive for expecting more from the mandates of the Kenosha Unified School District, but I had expected something, anything even from a district in dire need of raising those test averages. Apathy is the real name of the game here: There is no incentive to use this time productively. How KUSD could ever justify letting students sit idly by as their precious “contact time” that the district so values slowly ticks by could only be explained as a distinct commitment to mediocrity and toeing the bottom line. The only thing that could further encourage a culture of middling effort from students would be by doing something stupid like keeping students from doing essential things like accessing the internet or removing communication from the equation altogether, but thanks to KUSD’s commitment to the bottom line, they do just that with aplomb.

Lesson two of study hall reveals itself without saying a word, quite literally. Study hall and its administrators have a dedication to silence, be it through electronics or in voice. Certainly a school that prides itself on slowly moving into the modern era of learning through extensive use of computers and technology would encourage the use of said technology in a period with no purpose. Thankfully, in the spirit of never actually following through on their promises that draw in perspective students, KUSD’s study halls currently prohibit the use of computers or cell phones, the tools that could be used to access study tools like Quizlet, Google Classroom, and Docs. Study hall goes to great strides to keep its students from talking, too- speaking in study hall, which could be used to communicate in study groups or exchange opinions on classwork, which only stands to benefit the student.

The final and most important lesson of study hall is that the district is one hundred percent fine with letting potentially useful time go to waste for the students. Were KUSD not so seemingly obsessed with keeping their students quiet and getting “contact time” that never encompasses actual contact with students and more driven to encourage students to use their time wisely with resources and initiatives that would foster academic growth, study hall would be a viable use of a period. But no, the district that revels in an abundance of mediocrity is more than content to watch the time ever so slowly tick by.