The Athletic Study Hall Dilemma

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Isabelle Moore

 Within the Lake Forest High School student population, the fact is that there are juniors and seniors who are a part of a sport onAuto Draft 24ly because they will receive an athletic study hall due to their participation. Still, there are many students who go through the same tedious hours of practice and work, but are unable to receive the same academic accommodations in return. All of these different assorted outside of school sports programs work hard considering the metric of hours spent practicing and performing, but they do not receive the same break in the school day as junior and senior athletes. These athletes–akin to that of LFHS affiliated student-athletes–are working and trying to complete their assignments in a certain amount of time, all the while taking difficult classes and trying to compete with other students in different areas.

It’s amazing how many of these students are working hard with no break. Lianna Wisneski, a junior at Lake Forest high school, is a part of the band and a hard-working student who is constantly studying. She is also, however, a competitive dancer. Lianna is like many other athletes in the school who work hard and complete many hours of exercise and training, but are not compensated in the same manner as LFHS’ “student-athletes.”

In fact, last year Lianna averaged 20 hours a week dancing, which led to a great deal of schoolwork outside of the building along with the countless hours of grueling exercise, creating an even greater deal of stress. Lianna dances around 15 hours a week. However, due to the extreme stress from dancing and tryiAuto Draft 25ng to keep up with school work she had to drop five hours of dance. “Last year I danced 20 hours a week, and I was basically sick the whole entire year.” The mental stress and fatigue eventually wore her out and created an exhausted and tired teenager who would have benefitted tremendously from an athletic study hall. Even though these hours cause her to have less time to complete homework she admitted that, “ she would never drop these dance classes because of [her involvement] on a competitive team and there is a minimum of classes I have to take in order to remain a part of the company.” It’s hard to keep up with the need of her Advanced Placement and Honors courses while fulfilling her obligation to the dance company. Though she is definitely intelligent enough to stay in the class with the other students from an academic aptitude standpoint, most of them do not have to wait until 9 at night to get a chance to start their homework. Lianna added that, “It’s hard to keep up when I don’t get home until 9 at night when I still have to eat, shower, and do homework.”

While Lianna is running back and forth between classes–both dance classes and school classes–she tries to complete homework and finish memorizing different routines dance numbers. Since Lianna is a junior, she has been going through this process for the past two years and has formed a strong opinion. When I approached her about the angle of this article,she was excited to finally have her voice heard after struggling through these past years.“I dance the same number of hours as school sports have practiced.” Wisneski contested, alluding to the lack of fairness in the state’s policy and guidelines for granting athletic study halls. Her sentiment, of course, rings true, with extremely long excursions to hotels for workshops and competitions to go along with the practice, there is no time to sit and relax. These are Liana’s teenage years and she, like any LFHS athlete, deserves to have 45 minutes per day in a stress-free environment to complete her homework.

The school constantly asks us to stay active and get in a good, healthy shape, but this can not be achieved if they do not let all athletes have access to an athletic study hall. It’s just as important to have a healthy mind as it is to have a healthy body. “Just because I’m not doing a sport from the high school doesn’t mean I shouldn’t receive the same benefits as those studA woman swinging a tennis racketent-athletes,” Wisneski argued. This dilemma can be fixed very simply by having coaches sign a permission slip saying that the student is fulfilling the necessary amount of hours in order to receive an athletic study hall. Lianna agrees with this idea because, as a voice from the dance community, she “thinks it should be based on a number of hours you put in out of school.” That, in her opinion, is the whole point of an athletic study hall–for student-athletes to be able to complete their homework. Even though there are many different issues and ideas surrounding this topic that would need to be dealt with, it is important for teachers and other students to recognize the athletes who go out of their way to keep their grades up and be part of a sport outside of the high school.

It is perhaps naive of us to think that all sports and types of athletic activities can be sanctioned within the athletic department of the high school. Though LFHS and the IHSA have made great strides in sanctioning sports like cheerleading, competitive dance, and others into certified, accredited sports here in Illinois, there will always be exceptions to the rule. If we are serious about emphasizing the health of a young person’s mind and body, we should consider all types of athletes, not just those who compete donned in blue and gold.