No Rest for the Weary: Student Lounge Areas at LCA

By Greta Risgin, Editor-in-Chief. Photo taken by Stella Feng, unstaged after AP American History Test. Pictured from left to right. Top: Hannah MacDonald, Isabella Lahoue, Amy Palmer, Katrina Schell. Bottom: Zoe Swaim, Greta Risgin. 

School is important, but it is also stressful, tiring, and a lot of work. Almost all students have been there: staying up late to finish up that English essay, studying into the night for math tests, focusing all their brain power on trying to understand a concept in science. School takes a lot, and, as human biology demands, people need time to rest and recharge. A lot of times students do not acquire enough sleep at night because of the work they’re doing for school. It isn’t just the need for sleep either, but also the need to simply have a space to connect socially with peers instead of academically. There are always those times during the day when students just wish they could find a place to recharge during school, but those lounge spaces seem more and more elusive at LCA. The MakerSpace, although a wonderful addition to our school that helps kids expand their education with hands-on activities, has pushed out the student lounge area. The library is a great place to study, but its quiet academic atmosphere is certainly not suited for students who want to escape from the pressures of everyday school life for a small while. Sometimes students can find refuge in certain teacher’s rooms, but these spaces are only available at certain times. The last standing pillar of a student lounge area is the table on the second floor by the elevator, but even this seems to be fading away as this area has been downgraded to a tiny table that can fit only a few people and a couple of lone desk chairs. With this lack of an area for students to take a nap, or simply socialize for parts of the day, students — especially those with privileges — are pushed out into the halls to find any place in the school to take a breather.

A group of 65 upper school students were polled on topics about their sleep and stress habits. When asked where these students found places to destress and relax the majority answers were either…

  1. The library
  2. Mrs. Hashem’s room
  3. The hallways
  4. Nowhere in the school at all.

Unfortunately, all of these options lack sustainability. The library is supposed to be an academic space for students looking to work on school; it is certainly no place to socialize. There has also been a slow removal of comfy chairs in the library and an introduction to the hard, uncomfortable blue plastic chairs that have tormented both physical comfort and mental peace, and this has led the library to become an unwelcoming environment to the tired student seeking a nap. Mrs. Hashem’s room, while by far the most welcoming room at LCA, is often being used for its purpose: teaching. The hallways are what is left for tired students to roam, but this gaping hole in our school where it feels like any student lounge area of any kind should be is only fanning the flames of mental fatigue and burnouts in the academy’s students.

There are, in fact, some lounges at LCA. The lounges we have are teachers’ lounges, which makes sense. Teachers work hard each day giving lessons, having meetings, grading projects, et cetera, so it makes sense that they would need lounges to take a break, but unfortunately students aren’t extended this same luxury. Teacher lounges include the humanities lounge/workroom, the STEM lounge/workroom, and the general faculty lounge. The student body doesn’t have any sanctuaries like these — there are no lounges to socialize, take a breather, or most importantly: nap.

Sleep — It’s essential to us. There is no argument there, yet students are somehow always deprived of it, as they balance school, sports, and social lives. The recommended amount of sleep for teens is about nine hours a night, yet the average amount is actually is about seven hours. Out of our LCA poll participants, 41.5% said they received 6-7 hours, an alarming 35.4% of polled students said they only got 4-5 hours of sleep, and only 13.8% said they actually got the recommended 8-9 hours.

Lack of sleep hurts test scores, and even more dangerously, driving while drowsy causes more than 100,000 car crashes each year, which is especially worrying when many students at LCA drive themselves to school. Sleep deprivation is an enormous problem, especially among teenagers, so it only makes sense to try and counteract the harmful effects of lack of sleep. In fact, studies show that short daytime naps lasting only ten to fifteen minutes can quickly improve alertness in people who haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep, increasing both productivity and performance. As an academic institution, we want students to do well in school, and it would be greatly beneficial to students if they had a place during school to go to recharge, but unfortunately, no such area exists currently at our school.

We as humans are also inherently social creatures, and teenagers are especially so. School is not only a place to expand one’s education, but also a place to make long-lasting connections and friendships. Currently areas for socializing include the small table by the elevator, the hallways, and, much to the dismay of the librarian and people studying alike, — the library. These places around the school all have major flaws: the table can barely hold more than three people, you can’t talk in the hallways during classes if you’re on privs because that’s a distraction, and the library is a quiet area that should only have to deal with kids who want to study, not to talk. Although school should be a place mostly for academic, socializing is still an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have linked healthy social lives, especially when instated earlier in life, with better functioning psychologically, lower risk of physical disorders, and a longer life overall. Social life at LCA has been cut short though because there is not any area for students to facilitate it besides the fifteen minute break in the hallways and lunch block, which many students skip already to work on schoolwork again, plus the dissipation of club block has further halted a natural progression of social life among students in their day-to-day lives.

As students, there isn’t much needed to make a student lounge a hub for the upper school students of LCA — a couch, a few board games, some Mrs. Hashem state of the art Christmas lights, an outlet, and perhaps even a vending machine. In the administered survey, students wrote in the most asking for a place just to rest and decompress to ease some of the burdens that come with the high workloads, busy sport schedules, demanding theater productions, and more that students deal with everyday. Some samples from the student write-in responses are included below. 

Our school needs a place where we can study and eat at the same time. I’ve skipped way too many lunches to work in the library, and then I can’t even eat in the library. WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO WORK AND EAT?

 

With the addition of sports and other activities, I find myself at lca from 8am to 6pm, sometimes later or earlier. That is far too long, leaving me little time to do homework, eat, shower, and leaving absolutely no time for me to decompress.

 

too much stress. don’t sleep enough. am tired.

 

Teachers assign a TON of homework, then are somehow surprised when we’re exhausted from lack of sleep.

 

It’s all about the atmosphere created, and what the students need is a place to relax from the stresses and pressures of school and reap long-lasting benefits for the mental and physical health and wellbeing of the student population.