Mental Minutes: A New Routine at OIHS

A student practices mindfulness

A student practices mindfulness / Photographer: Arla Sutton

This year, Orcas Island High School has decided to implement a new idea, with the goal of bettering mindfulness throughout the student body. The idea: 10 minute mental breaks. With these breaks, students are given a time to relax and not have to worry about all the stress and pressure that is being put on them by the world we live in. The high school staff is recognizing that students need time to pause, without having to think. These breaks are where we can compose ourselves.

Teachers and staff have had different views on what the breaks should entail. There are basic guidelines that all classrooms have to follow: all electronic devices should be off, all students must be in class, and teachers will direct and lead this time. With these rules, teachers have to come up with their own plan on how this time will be spent. Vicki Clancy’s time, for example, is spent meditating, while Phil Comito’s time is spent reading, drawing, or just as quiet time. All teachers have different views on ways this time will be well spent, and students are able to experience these different ideas firsthand.

This is a plan in the making. Staff members are trying to get student feedback on how they feel about the 10 minute breaks and how they could be altered for the better. The first week that this was a part of the routine, the first 10 minutes of Tuesday and Thursday were set aside for students to relax. There were many different feelings about the new breaks. While many students did not enjoy the first week, they offered ways for improvement. Ariah Howard, when asked how she felt about the first week’s routine, responded, “I don’t like them being right in the morning.” This was a common answer for most students. Another was that the breaks just made them more tired. Students felt that if the breaks were to be moved to later in the day, they might be more enjoyable.

As taking these mental breaks becomes engraved in the routine at OIHS, students and staff will be able to find the right balance for how this time should be spent and the best time to have the breaks during the day.