Students Return to Recess in Different Roles

Hopewell Junior Students Return to Recess in Different Roles
Posted on 02/28/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Hopewell Junior Students Return to Recess in Different Roles

students playing on playgroundThe playground is as much a learning space as any classroom - and Hopewell Junior School students are now the ones behind some of those lessons. With the start of a new partnership with their neighbors at Hopewell Early Childhood School, the seventh- and eighth-graders are experiencing recess from a whole different perspective. 

“You can see how they learn teamwork skills and how to work in a group at recess,” said Hopewell eighth-grader Angela Bell. A few of her classmates and fellow volunteers - Zoe Surette, Samyra Feng, Mallory Shroder and Olivia Wilson - added other lifelong skills they’re seeing play out on the playground, like problem-solving, acceptance and respect. 

Twice a week, the junior school students are giving up their “T-Hawk Time” to go out to recess. But this time around, their role looks quite different than it did one or two years ago. They are helping facilitate games, manage conflict and most importantly, help coach their younger counterparts on how to problem-solve when conflict at recess does occur. 

“You definitely take for granted that they know how to play at this age, but they’re still navigating all of that,” said Hopewell ECS Assistant Principal Melissa Myers, who originally approached Hopewell Junior Assistant Principal Leanna Webber with the challenge. Shortly after Webber opened up the opportunity to students in the school’s Junior National Honor Society, she had 30 volunteers. 

The students divide themselves up according to the different zones of Hopewell’s playground. They spent the first week observing student behavior and trends before stepping back to plan out games they could facilitate, complete with a set of rules and expectations they would share with the students. Among their activities: soccer, four square, freeze tag, sharks and minnows and red light green light.  

“They really seem to be watching our example and you can tell just our presence alone is making a difference,” Wilson said. But when they do run into conflict, they’ve been coached to simply ask the students questions as a way of guiding them to a resolution. 

The approach is similar to the conflict resolution bridge coming soon to Hopewell’s playground. The visual to be painted on the blacktop will step students through the conflict resolution process, asking them to finish statements like, “I feel ____ when you did something” or “Next time, I will…” In the meantime, the partnership is proving therapeutic on both ends.  

“It’s so nice to have the break in the day to not only go outside, but also be able to help these students," Wilson said.