By: Melissa Santiago

 Week 1 in schools: check.  I’m officially in love with Weinland Park Elementary and its entire student body.  From the clingy kindergarteners to the attitude-infused fifth graders, every day I walk through the halls I become more attached. My absolute favorite part of each day though is clearly recess. You might think it’s because I get a break from the frustrations of tutoring or because it’s just plain fun, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

BOOP. That’s the sound of the recess bell in case you were wondering.   If you didn’t recognize it, that’s probably because you’re about my age or older and when you were in school the bell was an actual bell that rang and not an electronic beeping noise over an intercom…but anyway, I digress. This week I went to recess 19 times (yes, 19 times) and these are some of my observations.

Recess is a time for crying…because you got stung by a bee, because your best friend was talking about you behind your back, because you fell off the monkey bars, or because you have to sit on the wall and watch everybody else play in recess since you didn’t turn in your math homework…again.

Recess is for bending rules…because how can you say no to a first grader who’s begging you to throw them the ball but doesn’t have a corner in four square?

Recess is for laughing…because Miss Patrice leads “get loose”, a famous City Year icebreaker, to save a City Year from a tickle attack, because you’re the victim of that tickle attack, or because you’re the one doing the tickling…

Looking at the basketball courts will tell you that it’s the boys’ territory, unless you reveal to them you went to college with Michael Jordan (and conveniently left out the 30 year time gap).

The monkey bars are for literally and figuratively being lifted up by friends. And for hanging upside down by tiny legs and having conversations, defying some gravitational laws and never falling down.  Lets not forget making new friends, especially ones who speak your first language, and especially when less than a handful of other students in the entire school speak that language or share your culture.

Recess’s grassy field is for doing backflips or arguing with 6 year olds over whether or not girls should be allowed to play in the NFL.  It’s for using kickball to unite the entire class of fifth graders who were calling each other names one minute and cheering for each other the next.  It is also for seeing a different side of people- the student who led a revolt against the substitute teacher in reading this morning now leads his classmates in a strategic kickball play.

As soon as recess starts I have at least 10 little arms pulling me in different directions, several different voices vying for my attention on all parts of the playground.  I’ve realized that no matter how much I complain to my team about how exhausting it is to do recess thrice in a day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  19 recesses has shown me that my impact on the students outside of the classroom is just as important as how I impact them inside the classroom.   What happens at recess doesn’t stay at recess, but reveals more about a kid than an entire day in the classroom with him or her.  I can honestly say I’m looking forward to the hundreds more recess bells I’ll hear this year and getting to know every student through the events that follow each bell.