When the bell rings at the end of the day at Kenai Central High, not all the students flee the halls and classrooms.
This October, a team of staff members at the school saw a need for an after-school study hall to give kids a quiet place to work or get extra help.
"We had a number of kids in the younger grades that could be doing better in classes and we didn't feel like we had a lot to offer other than maybe to give them a pep talk," said Greta Cox, a school counselor at Kenai.
Christine Bergholtz, a science teacher, said before the study hall was launched, she commonly had students stay after class for help, even if they weren't taking a course with her at the time.
"If they needed me they needed other people," Bergholtz said. "There were other students out there that needed help, or to use the library or use a computer. I didn't think we were providing that."
There are no study halls offered during the regular school day, and Bergholtz said that while after-school programs exist at some of the other Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools, she was unaware of any similar organized programs like this in Kenai Central's recent past.
Teachers started signing up on a volunteer basis at the beginning of the school's second quarter to supervise the study hall, held in the library from 2:30 to 4 p.m, Tuesday through Thursday.
Bergholtz said only a few students came at first. In the following weeks, word spread and more were attracted.
Now, she said numbers vary, but typically 20 to 30 students will spend their afternoon in the library, with more showing up when projects are due.
School computers are available and although library books can't be checked out students can use or make copies of needed materials.
Recently the high school has begun to piggyback on the late bus that's run for Kenai Middle's after-school program, offering students a ride home.
It's no party though.
"They can't come in and text or sit around and talk to friends unless they're working together on projects for school," Cox said. "It's not a social club."
Parental consent for students to attend is not required, though Bergholtz and Cox said that parents can ask that their student attend and be notified if they don't attend.
The school can't punish students if they don't go, Bergholtz explained, since attendance isn't mandatory.
With more students interested in staying after, the two said the school is grappling with trying to find a way to meet demand and find teachers who can continue to volunteer.
"Teachers are really busy and we can't expect them to volunteer forever," Cox said. "They can't just sit in there and grade papers, we want them helping kids."
The school is looking for ways to fund having someone supervise the study hall, but at least for the rest of the year, Bergholtz expects to see teachers continue to run it through volunteer efforts.
Cox said there's also a move to have consistent peer tutoring, something that would benefit both students looking to get some help and students hoping to fulfill community service requirements.
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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