Headphone policy aims to promote socialization

Claire Devereux, Senior Reporter

A new school policy at both Convent and Stuart Hall high schools asks students to abstain from using headphones in communal areas on campus in an effort to improve school culture and community engagement.

“The request is made in support of community and the value of being present with one another,” Head of School Rachel Simpson said. “When we have headphones on, we are blocking out our community.”

Although the new rule is not a written policy, the schools “reserve the right to make changes to the Student/Parent Handbook during the school year,” and “all issues that may arise in the school year do not supersede good judgment or formation of consequences,” according to the Convent & Stuart Hall Student/Parent High School Handbook.

“I understand why it’s a new rule,” junior Emma Blaza said. “It’s similar to the ‘Just say hi’ thing, and they want us interact with each other and talk to each other but when sitting down doing homework individually, we should be allowed headphones when in communal areas.”

Some teachers are allowing students to use headphones while taking a test, working on projects or having independent work time.

“Every student takes a test differently — some get distracted easily, some like to read out loud — listening to music helps some students focus more easily,” math teacher Amy Leaver said. “If listening to music helps you focus, then I think you should be able to listen to music and take a test at the same time.”

Teachers who support the call for no headphones cite better participation in class and conversation in communal spaces, including the Mother Williams Library.

“When people put those headphones on, they just go into their own space,” SHHS physics teacher Matt Woodard said. “It doesn’t lead to conversation and interaction.”

Some students are not too keen on the new policy because they can find music helpful when it comes to decompressing or completing work.

“Headphones make it so that I am not as distracted,” sophomore Wellesley Cohen said. “I don’t listen to obnoxious music. I sometimes listen to classical music because it helps mute out other noises.”

Stuart Hall High School more consistently enforces the new headphone usage policy on campus in classrooms and in common areas.

“The idea was to have a more communal environment where kids are not tuning out,” Woodard said. “Rather, they are tuning into each other’s conversations.”