It’s lunchtime at Patuxent High School in Southern Maryland, but it looks and sounds more like recess.
Students lounge in hallways and classrooms with sack lunches and trays of food. They play Frisbee, get dating advice from teachers, hold club meetings, cram for afternoon quizzes, play video games or catch up on sleep.
Two years ago, Patuxent Principal Nancy Highsmith released students from the confines of the cafeteria and replaced the multiple 30-minute lunch periods with one hour-long, schoolwide lunch. With some creative scheduling class time has remained the same, she said, and the middle-of-the-day burst of freedom has increased club participation, taught time management skills and given stressed-out students time to chill.
But there’s an ulterior motive: raising test scores, grades and graduation rates.