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The Student Voice

Student voice is an essential component to our discussion on education. Below we will post essays written by students from around Rhode Island.

All for One and One for All: Recess in High Schools

Posted by: Kamlyn Keith on 8/24/2016
Derek Degnan
17 year old student-athlete going into his senior year at Lincoln High School.
His career path will be in the field of Cyber Operations.

When the word “recess” is brought up in conversation, most people think of elementary school kids running around a playground. Therefore, when people hear “recess in high school,” thoughts of immediate doubt cross their mind. The stigma of recess being a play period for children overshadows what recess really is - a time for physical activity not only for play, but to positively affect the minds and bodies of the participants. Through extensive research, I came across many positive benefits recess offers to anyone, no matter what age, who participate in it.

We should take it back to late January 2016 - the beginning of my journey through my exhibition process. I am from Lincoln, and Lincoln High School offers an exhibition project to be done in the students’ junior year. It is very similar to a senior project, but completed a year earlier. My exhibition journey started with topic selection. In choosing my topic, I wanted to do something that could make a positive change in my school. Through this process, I came to the conclusion that recess in high schools is not just a want - it’s a need. The next step of the process was to gather enough evidence to support my claim, and the evidence I have gathered goes beyond our beliefs about how exercise positively affects people. My goal was to solve the problem of students being tired and losing focus in class as their day progresses. With the research done and the data collected, I believed a solution for this problem was imminent. So, I focused mostly on the mental effects brought by daily exercise, not so much the physical. While the physical effects are just as important, the mental effects are ones that not many people are aware of.

The research I conducted and the information found was nothing short of mind-blowing. Before this project, I had very little knowledge about how exercise affects us mentally, as many people do not. Daily exercise has been proven to directly impact memory and cognition and also keeps students awake and energized for the day. Daily exercise stimulates your vestibular system, the system in your inner ear that controls balance and stability. This system is directly connected to the basal ganglia and other parts of the brain that dictate memory and cognition. Daily exercise also lowers one’s risk of depression and anxiety. Through examples set by Greenwood Central High School, in New York, and Montpelier High School, in Vermont, recess has also improved the overall environment of the school. Both of these schools incorporated a recess period and have seen positive effects in both the school environment and with the students’ focus, attitude, mental clarity, and overall well-being.

The effects that these two schools have experienced are what I hope to see for all high schools in the near future. As for my own high school, where physical education class is only available for half the year, 2-3 days per week, I created a suggested schedule incorporating a variety of daily supervised recess periods to show how it would fit into the day. It fit in with no effect on the length of classes or the overall school day. I would like to see this concept of recess in high schools appeal to both teachers and administrators, as I strongly believe, through my research on this topic, that recess is a necessity in high schools not only for the students’ academic benefit but for the school morale as a whole.

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