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Library’s student numbers changing

The sparsely-occupied quiet area in the library during lunch (Photo: Claire Wu, The Puma Prensa)

By Claire Wu, staff writer

This September, Maria Carrillo High School’s Study Spot, a place in the library for studying and tutoring during every Advocacy period, reopened after its appearance last year, causing crowding and noise at the now-popular studying space.

Taking place in the main, open area of the library, the Study Spot is a place for “making academic progress,” said teacher Margie BradyLong, a manager of the Spot who is also the Math Department Chair. All students can come to it by acquiring the Study Spot pass, a blue card that is larger than a normal yellow Advocacy pass and that has a chart to continue filling each time a student attends. Blank Study Spot passes are placed in a basket situated near the front of the library, as well as at the front of many classrooms, ready for students to pick up. Students will be given a reward, such as a five-dollar Yogurt Time gift card, when they finish filling in their blue pass, according to English teacher Jordan Henry, another manager of the Study Spot. However, BradyLong wants students to come to the Study Spot to work, not for the prizes.

A blue Study Spot Pass, with spaces for the date, Advocate signature, time, and Study Spot confirmation for each time a student visits the Study Spot (Photo: Claire Wu, The Puma Prensa)

Beginning on Nov. 7, 2022, the Study Spot only opens at 10:30 a.m. to allow time to assemble this studying space for students. In addition, students can now only enter the study center until 10:40 a.m., at which time the library doors close and lock, so that they are encouraged to arrive at the library without dawdling around the school campus. 

At the Study Spot, tables in the large, common area of the library are labeled with the names of certain subjects, such as “Chem” and “English.” Students can sit at these tables, and Study Spot coaches, generally juniors and seniors, will tutor them. These coaches have received training in tutoring their fellow peers. And because coaches can decide which one of them knows the subject of the table well, they can determine which one of them should tutor the student. In addition, the coaches can help more than one student at once by coming to a table at which all of the students are working on the same subject.

Students and a Study Spot coach sit at the Math 3 table at the Study Spot (Photo: Claire Wu, The Puma Prensa)

But the Study Spot recently reached full capacity in terms of how many people it can seat at one time. 

On Oct. 28, the library was hosting the Study Spot as usual during Advocacy. At that time, the room was full with over 70 students working at tables or hanging out with friends, in addition to the coaches and teachers present. 

The maximum number of people who can be in the library at one time is usually 80 during break, lunch, and before and after school, although more students can come to the library during Advocacy because there are more adults available at that time to keep an eye on student behavior. Yet the 70 students occupying the Study Spot was a great increase from the average number of 40 students at this center, and “there is not enough space or supervision for 70 students in the library, and that’s why we have capped it at 55,” Henry later said. 

And the crowd was not quiet. Jonathan Ling, a sophomore who usually went to the library during Advocacy earlier in the school year, commented that the Study Spot has “gotten a lot louder now,” with people coming to hang out with their friends, rather than to work on assignments or to study. With the learning center advertised well this year though, more students have come to work, as well.

To mitigate the noise at the Study Spot, students who consistently talk too loudly while spending time with their friends will be told to leave for a couple of weeks, as well as will students who do not respect the teachers at the Study Spot. And according to BradyLong, people who were not using their time at the Study Spot to work have been told to spend two weeks away.

In contrast, the library at lunch is now relatively empty and quiet compared to the Study Spot. Fewer people currently spend their lunchtimes in the building due to new restrictions that were initiated early this September, the same month that this year’s Study Spot opened.

The library now requires students to have a Library Lunch Pass in order to ensure that they can enter during the long midday break, as the library doors may close and lock during lunch, depending on how many seats are left open and students’ behavior inside. In order to obtain a lunch pass, a student asks Library Tech Helena Olvera or Library Tech Tiffany Fulton for a pass for that day. After a student receives the pass for that specific day of the week, they can return to the library at lunch on the same day. Someone in charge of the library, either Olvera or Fulton, will then grant them access after seeing their pass, if the doors have been locked. Without the pass, students who want to enter during the mealtime break may be blocked. 

A Library Lunch Pass (Photo: Claire Wu, The Puma Prensa)

This new lunch-pass system, as well as the locking of the doors, are used to minimize the number of students allowed into the library at lunch each day. In general, about 60 students can be in that space during lunch, although this usual amount of people “could change in the future and on rainy days,” said Fulton. But for now, she said that the library’s capacity is being reduced in order to better keep watch on the students’ behavior and to stop students from eating or drinking inside. 

Today many seats remain empty in the library during the lunch break.

“Now that the lunch passes are being used, it has been quieter than it was a few months ago,” said sophomore Hannah Kiehl.

The roles have reversed: the Study Spot’s noise level has increased with more students now attending during advocacy, while the traditional loudness in the library at lunch has shifted to a quiet more typical of a place for studying.

*Note: Beginning on Monday, Jan. 17, 2023, students need to sign in to the library using a QR code posted on the library’s front window, or the library’s chromebook, and wait to be allowed into the library at lunch by the Library Technicians.

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