Juniors option continues this school year


Juniors are now allowed to leave school during study hall if they meet certain criteria.

From the moment freshmen enter door-17 on the first day of school, they are continuously lectured on working hard and booking themselves fully so they can relax and have more room in their schedules for Senior Option–also known as free period, or sometimes… extra sleep-in time.

Last year’s juniors were thrown a pleasant surprise when they were given permission to do the thing they had been looking forward to one year earlier–junior option.

The 2020-2021 school year changed the rules of Senior Option to lessen the number of people in the building at once.

In the beginning of last school year, junior option was a taboo subject that always seemed to be on the brink of termination as soon as COVID ended. Students had to convince their parents to send emails to administrators pleading for permission to leave the school during their study hall periods. Given the strict COVID-19 procedures that GlenOak had to follow, it was easy for principals to say “yes”.

Noelle Meister, a senior, talks about her experience with junior option last school year.

“As a junior, I had a study hall during period 6/7 on A days and B days. It was really nice having junior option because I had time to rest and get homework done in a comfortable setting before my extracurriculars in the afternoons,” Meister said.

Meister also mentions she benefited from having a change of scenery during the day, instead of being inside the same building for seven hours straight.

While junior option was initially introduced as a nice gesture during the height of the pandemic, younger students are still being given the privilege this school year.

Abbey Smrdel is a current junior and she explains how she was able to get junior option this year.

Originally, they were only allowing seniors to leave during their free periods. After a few weeks, though, some of my friends had applied for junior option, so I applied and was granted permission to leave as well.

— Abbey Smrdel

“Originally, they were only allowing seniors to leave during their free periods. After a few weeks, though, some of my friends had applied for junior option, so I applied and was granted permission to leave as well,” Smrdel said.

Smrdel has a free period during 5th period on B days, where she would normally be stuck in uncomfortable gym bleachers, surrounded by loud students.

“I’ve always had trouble concentrating in study hall, especially in the gym, where it feels crowded and chaotic. I like getting to leave because I am able to get more work done in a calmer atmosphere,” Smrdel said.

Whether or not the junior option will continue past this year is unknown. Plenty of students agree that it should continue to be allowed. As long as students have the means of transportation to get them to and from school, there is no reason why they should not be allowed to leave.

Lucy Hennessy is a sophomore taking a good amount of rigorous classes. She relies heavily on her study halls to get her work done, but struggles in the disruptive environment. However, she has other reasons for why she thinks the junior option should continue.

“I think that being able to leave during the school day gives students a new sense of responsibility and freedom that they will need to learn how to balance once they are out of high school and on their own,” Hennessy said.

Heather Zapolnik, a counselor at the high school, talks about the requirements for juniors to be approved for junior option.

“First, we make sure that juniors meet the same requirements for senior option. They have to fill out the application and have it signed by a parent or guardian,” Zapolnik said.

Zapolnik’s job is mainly to provide the applications to her students. Once they have turned it in, administrators will follow up with a parent or guardian to discuss why their child should be given permission to leave. An additional requirement needed for juniors is a reason the current study hall does not work well for the child.

“I believe that if a student can provide a valid reason for why it is in their best interest to not be in a study hall, then there is nothing wrong with allowing them to leave the school,” Zapolnik said.

Zapolnik also claims that junior option can be beneficial for those who are responsible enough because it frees up room in the packed study halls. Zapolnik explains that she has been one of the biggest advocates for junior option.

“We currently have more students than ever before, but with the same amount of staff. Additionally, the substitute teacher shortage means that students who are actually taking a class often add to the chaos of study halls,” Zapolnik said.

Junior option is slowly providing a way for students to leave school for a much-needed break in a quieter atmosphere.