Tea Time at CHS?


Sohie Ryang, Staff Writer

The alarm for the fire drill finally sounded, and my classmates and I plunged towards the door, racing to get outside and breathe the crisp fall air. After the ten minute break outside (fire drill), we came back into History class and assiduously continued our work. I thought to myself, “Imagine if we could have a ten minute break like this everyday.” School would be a lot less exhausting for everyone–for both the administration and the students–if we had a certain amount of time each week to release pent up energy. 

Look at England, for example. The entire country stops for “afternoon tea” around 3pm, every day of the week. This time is spent drinking tea and nibbling on cookies. I am not saying that CHS should institute mandatory tea time at CHS. My point is that an entire country takes an afternoon break to clear their mind before they continue on with the rest of their day. Before you say that this idea is utterly unrealistic or unreasonable to try to implement at CHS, hear me out. I think there are numerous ways we could incorporate a break of some kind into our daily schedule here at Charlottesville High School. 

I spoke with Ms. Horne, who teaches English and Public Speaking at CHS, about several possibilities we might try at CHS next year. One idea involves having a longer lunch period, which would give students more time to unwind in the middle of the day. Another idea involves shifting to four classes per semester, allowing students to focus on four main classes, rather than seven, each semester. Four block days might sound daunting, but something that would make it more manageable, and perhaps even enjoyable, would be a mandatory ten minute break outside in the middle of each class period. I would love to call this break a mini “recess,” because I never quite understood why recess didn’t continue into middle school and high school. As highschoolers, we spend hours upon hours at our desks and on our computers. Most of us go home at the end of the day and spend more hours at a desk, inside, doing homework. This short break in the middle of class could be spent walking around the school, walking around the track, or even playing a quick game of knockout on the basketball courts. Any sort of activity that gets you up from your desk, on your feet, and outside in the natural world would be refreshing and reinvigorating. A break from the windowless, fluorescent light-filled classroom, even for just a few minutes, would almost certainly increase students’ ability to focus on their studies, deepen their social connections, and make them less tired for the last class period of the day. If you asked any teacher at CHS what their least favorite class period is, I bet they’d say the final period of the day. 

In making this proposal, I am drawing on first hand experience. I took Public Speaking 1 last year with Ms. Horne, and we would frequently take walks on the days we had a 90 minute class. A quick walk around the school would shift my mood almost immediately. I was less aggravated and exhausted when I left school and more energized to continue on with my day. With five and half hours being the legal seated learning time for public schools in Virginia, I think we can find room for breaks and devise a new and improved schedule for next year.