Huntington North turns underutilized space into new student gathering, study lounge

Credit recovery class teacher Leslie Nicola (left) helps senior Morgan Burkhart with her geography assignment on Thursday, Aug. 31, in the Huntington North High School’s new Locker Lounge. Students can use the lounge to do homework, either individually or in groups.
Credit recovery class teacher Leslie Nicola (left) helps senior Morgan Burkhart with her geography assignment on Thursday, Aug. 31, in the Huntington North High School’s new Locker Lounge. Students can use the lounge to do homework, either individually or in groups. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2017.

Students at Huntington North High School have a new place to gather and study this year, located adjacent to a row of lockers and next door to the school office. Appropriately enough, it’s called the Locker Lounge.

HNHS Principal Russ Degitz says the lounge was the brainchild last year of then-administrative intern Katie Jellison, who proposed turning the space into a place where students could work on homework.

“It just took a space that was really underutilized. It had lockers that were no longer utilized anymore, so it was a space that we felt more could be done with,” Degitz explains. “We obviously wanted it to be utilized by students, because they’re the reason we’re here.”

Before school gets under way in the morning, only seniors are allowed to use the study lounge, but throughout the rest of the school day the lounge is open to any and all students, Degitz says.

“Especially after school, it gets utilized a lot because we have our students with their MacBooks and some homes don’t have wireless Internet and students need to work on homework and those types of things, so that provides a student space for them to work on homework, or if they have group projects to work on with other students after
school,” he says. “It’s just an area for them to be able to do that, rather than sitting in a lunchroom at a table they eat lunch at.”

Decorated in the HNHS school colors of red and black, Locker Lounge boasts comfortable chairs and large tables, carpeting, wide risers and even a free device charging station. It is reminiscent of what one might find on a college campus, Degitz adds.

“School is so different now than a generation ago,” Degitz says. “We have a lot of students that will take classes off our campus – they’ll go to a college campus and those types of things, so depending on their schedule, if they come back and we’re getting ready to do a passing period in transition to the next class, it provides a space for them to spend that little bit of time before the next class begins. So it’s really designed to create that college/professional atmosphere for our kids, because we tell them we want to treat them like young adults.”

At any time during the school day, students can be found spending some time at Locker Lounge, gathering in multiple groups of three or four or even more, or simply using the lounge individually to work on assignments. Some classes also meet at the lounge, such as the credit recovery class led by teacher Leslie Nicola.

Kyle Banter, a junior, was found sitting on the lounge’s risers to work on his geography assignments.

“It’s quiet. There’s more space – you have your little space,” he says. “The teachers will let you come down and do makeup work, and this is time to do whatever you want … I also come down for two other classes.”

Sophomores Alec Hinesley and Charlie Lopshire took advantage of the lounge to spread out their books, open their computers and work on their biology vocabulary together.

“It’s actually comfortable,” Hinesley said. “You’re not that distracted; you’re more like in it. When you’re sitting on a harder seat you’re not as comfortable.”

Lopshire agreed, saying he likes what he calls the “squishy” seats.

“You don’t have to sit at a hard desk or something,” he says. “And it’s quiet. And there’s a charging station.”
The Locker Lounge doesn’t exactly take the place of a study hall period, but it gives those students with the time a place where they can get some quality study time in.

“I guess you could use it for study hall, if your classroom doesn’t have a couch,” Lopshire says. “This is quiet so you can work here, and get it done.”