Blog: Welcome to the Jungle: The Truth Behind Recess Duty, Hamilton Edition

    By: Christine Olding

When I left the playground at Ida Weller Elementary in 2000, I never thought I’d step foot again on a playground. Being the youngest child in  family of three, I never had the joy of playing with younger siblings or going back to my old schools to greet them. When I left that school that hot June day, I never thought I’d see another recess time. I could not have been more wrong.

 When getting the news that I’d be at Hamilton STEM Academy,  I was overjoyed with the prospect of re-living my jungle gym days. What I did not realize, was things would be drastically different, yet somehow the same.

Within days of my recess duty, I had been climbed, jumped on, and grabbed more times than I can count. With countless questions of “Can I have your hair?” to “Will you give me a piggy back ride?” I was beginning to wonder what exactly I had gotten myself into.  At the age of twenty-two, I was already finding myself uttering things such as, “I am way too old for this.” It wasn’t until the second full week of recess duty, that I realized what I had gotten myself into.  By that point, the students began to recognize me and look for me during their twenty minutes of play time.  Granted, some days are more challenging than others, I have to say,  knowing that those students smile when they see me stomping up to the jungle gym in my all too familiar khaki and white, truly makes my day.  In my short time there, I have been a princess, a protector from the evil vampire queen, an enemy and a friend. I have taken magical journeys to Strawberry Shortcake’s Ball and been a referee for the most intense races since the 2008 Olympics.  I have witnessed tears shed and laughter shared. I have broken up countless fights and given even more high fives filled with encouragement. While looking back on my days at good ol’ Weller, I never realized how much it meant to me to see the same teachers and mentors during recess. It wasn’t until this experience that I truly thought back to the adults that guided me through those times. Though, my recess time now is far different from my recess time in my adolescent years,  I still find myself indulging in the same creative and innocent, cleverly thought out games and experiences.

Sometimes life drops down in a spot you’d never thought you’d revisit. Even though, at first,  it may seem challenging and you may feel like you can’t do it again, you must realize that there is a reason you are there.  There is a reason that your presence is needed to relive those moments of your past.  Take each of those moments and live them to their fullest potential.  
Each day I lace up my Timberlands , I picture little eight year old Christine strapping on her light up shoes, and I remember why I was dropped back down to revisit my jungle gym days.


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