Change isn’t always a bad thing.  Even difficult changes sometimes prompt more positive ones in their wake. A year of mask wearing, hybrid learning, social distancing, and many other changes to Middle School life at PA , may have been the catalyst for a positive, popular change in students’ midday schedule. For the last month, middle school students have been getting to go outside for 5 minutes after lunch. This Stretch period, as it is being called, was originally proposed by MS teachers.

“Teachers were looking for a way to give students a mask break and to take advantage of a few free minutes at the end of lunchtime,” commented Middle School Director Mr. Kyle Rickbeil, who was happy to oblige the request if logistics lined up.

Because of the increasingly good weather, middle school students have been able to take advantage of the opportunity for fresh air most days since the end of April. 

Originally, the hope was was to have middle school students spend time in the gym, but unfortunately scheduling didn’t permit the plan. However, when the weather got better, it was a perfect time to implement this unique outdoor addition to the day.  

“If we had enough teachers to supervise the middle school students, then why not?” continued Rickbeil. 

At the end of April, the plan took effect and will continue through the remainder of the semester, weather permitting. Each day, a different middle school grade is allowed to go outside.

Stretch is basically the equivalent to a brief recess for the middle school students and it gives them the time to “stretch” from sitting all day. This also allows students to get exercise outside of gym class. It also gives them the ability to interact with their friends without masks and have some quality time outside.

After finishing lunch, middle school students can use the Stretch activity to relieve stress from the day before continuing afternoon classes.

Mrs. Hannah Wegner, 6th and 8th grade instructor is delighted to help facilitate this opportunity.  She noted, “Students often come into [the class period immediately following lunch] with high energy, but still I think Stretch enables them to focus more quickly.”

Wegner added, “The afternoon can get very long and by pink or purple periods the students are either very antsy and do not want to sit still, or they are starting to get sleepy and their brains are saturated.”

Teachers agree, Stretch has been a good way for middle students to get out, exercise, and socialize. The students are able to get moving, which can help them focus throughout the rest of the day. Given the spaced seating at lunchtime, it allows students time to socialize with more of their friends and simply enjoy the weather and fresh air. 

Stretch period gives students a much needed break from their regimented schedule, to finish the school day–and school year–strong.