Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Last Period Study Hall

If you are thinking "rogues gallery" please don't do that.

Study hall is a school institution which should not exist as the only excuse for it is to serve as a holding pen for the inma... er, students.  I can testify to the veracity of this statement based on my experiences as a student who was on occasion assigned to a study hall, and upon my experience as a teacher who was occasionally assigned to monitor a study hall.  The time of teachers and students alike could be put to better use.

Go with me all the way back to a study hall to which you were assigned when you were in high school.  Are you there with me?

This particular subset of America's finest and brightest circa mid-20th century was assigned to a sixth period study hall.  Please understand that the young people pictured here were neither the officers of the National Honor Society nor were they the hoods and molls of the school in question.  The former were out running errands for the office staff or had been released early on their own recognizance or were otherwise earning brownie points or serving their community.  The latter we will get to later.

To the upper left of the collage is Blendina Faye Adamson  Upper right is James Jefferson Catt.  Below him is Mary Ann Appleman and in the fourth corner is yours truly.  Mary Ann is the only Junior in a room full of Seniors.  She could hold her own. In the center is the lucky guy who was assigned to supervise the motley crew that met each afternoon in the library.  From his appearance, you might guess that Bill Stradley is not much older than his charges, and you would be right.

Our table was east center of a very large room, and I am guessing that there were usually upward of sixty students assigned to this area from two-thirty to three-fifteen each day.  Kitty and I sat opposite each other with a girl between us on either side, arranged much as the picture above.  The table comfortably accommodated four people and their books and pens and so on.  Do not assume that the books and writing implements got much use.

Give everyone a few minutes to shuffle their stuff and settle in while Mr. Stradley takes a stroll around the room, roster in hand, checking off any absentees.  He settles at the east end of the room, ostensibly grading papers, and probably he was, for he is an English teacher.  The visiting at our table is not excessively loud, but it persists, and Mr. Stradley finally feels compelled to walk over and remind us of our "purpose" in being here.  And the fun begins.  Probably against his better judgment, Mr. Stradley very quickly finds himself immersed in our conversation, he himself being a participant.

"Kitty just installed a set of mean Stromberg 97s," said Mary Ann.
"Really?  What would a pair of those do for my Merc?"  Mr. Stradley.
Kitty squirms a little in his chair, sits up a little straighter.  "It'd fly, but you should install dual pipes and glass packs first."

The first man out the west library door put the stop down so it would stay open.  The hoods are slipping out one and two at a time as we earn our chops with them for distracting the warden.

"Would Mrs. Stradley let you do that?"  asked Blendina.
"She's okay with it," replied our teacher.  I bet you didn't know I met her at a car show, did you?"

Crackling of the loudspeaker, then "James Catt come to the office; James Catt to the office, please."

Kitty said, "Come out to the shop Saturday.  I can fix you up with those glass packs."  He got his crutches from beneath the chair, turned and swung himself up and headed out.  Kitty's lower appendages swing along with him for the ride, but it is his amazing upper body strength that propels the young Catt through his life.  His eyes are only a bit more than five feet above the floor, but his shoulders look to be five feet wide.


Secondary Roads said...

Thanks to study hall, I rarely took carried a book or an assignment home. Unfortunately, what worked for me in high school did not work in college.

vanilla said...

Chuck, mileage for an individual unit may vary.

Grace said...

Because we had close to 6000 kids in my high school "study hall" was usually tacked on to the end of a class schedule so you could get signed out. Since we were on triple session this kind of lightened the body count through out the day. For the late session study hall was the first period of the day, also a sign out, why they just didn't have us all come in 45 minutes later I have no idea, probably some state law that mandated a certain number of classes per day...My school didn't have room to park kids.

Vee said...

The good old days! Study hall meant no homework for me. It was handy that study hall was in the library. If we wanted to research, we were in the right place.

vanilla said...

Grace, very likely legislators in Albany had something to do with that.

Vee, I note here that some found different uses for their time.

Lin said...

My high school was overcrowded and so we were on a split shift---Upper classmen started in the morning, under classmen in the afternoon. There was no time or space for study hall.

There was also no cafeteria either. The only lunch/study you got was if you were an athlete. You didn't have to take gym, so that period was set aside for some snacks and "studying."

Do they still use study halls today? I would think somebody would finally realize what a waste that is.

vanilla said...

Lin, if that means the time in the building was shorter than normal, I am all for it. I don't know what goes on in schools these days. Haven't been in one in I don't recall how long.

Sharkbytes said...

I got a lot of homework done in study halls. Everyone had one per day... not always last period. Rarely, as I recall. Being almost completely non-social in high school, I actually studied in study hall.

vanilla said...

Shark, the uncertainty of life on this mortal coil. Our number three grad succombed to leukemia before he was 24; the salutatorian was killed a few years later in the high-speed train tragedy in Japan. Yet some of us are blessed to soldier on.