Student Spotlight: King of the Playground

If you were to go into any elementary school and ask the question, “What’s your favorite subject?” you would hear everything from math to art to science to lunch. However, there’s always that one kid who changes the game for everyone when they shout, “RECESS!”. That kid for Monroe Elementary is fourth grade student, Joseph Colonel.

In recent weeks, Joseph took it upon himself to start a petition at his school for a longer recess. Not only did he start a petition, but he even went to lengths to organize a meeting with Monroe Principal, Mr. Greg Chandler, to plead his case. 

“When I picked him up at school, he said he was starting a petition for longer recess.  We had a discussion about it and I suggested if he was serious, he needed to provide evidence and create a presentation,” stated his mom, Katie. “He said he was inspired by a story he read at school about a girl who raised money for a charity that helps kids with cleft palate. He figured if she was one small person who made a difference, then he could too.”

Inspiration and confirmation proved to be the perfect storm to launch Joseph on the path towards something bigger than himself.

As soon as Joseph got home from school that day, he began conducting his research, making certain to site his sources. Using his chromebook, he put together a Google Document of information and even explored building a Google Form to send around to Monroe teachers to gather their input. 

In his meeting with Mr. Chandler, Joseph explained that there is just not enough time to organize and actually play games. He would go on to pad his argument by diving into the many health and academic benefits associated with longer play time. From the short term effects of being less fidgety in the classroom to long term impacts such as developing negotiation, leadership, and conflict/resolution skills, his case was looking strong. Adding more weight to the seriousness of his case, he even adapted the bell schedule to accomodate for the extra 15 minutes of play he was vying for.

“When Joseph came to me with this presentation, I’ll be honest, I was quite impressed,” stated Mr. Chandler. “I was impressed with the time and effort he put into explaining why this was beneficial beyond the fun.”

After back and forth negotiations between the two, they finally came to an agreement.

“When I told my friends that we were getting more recess they were so very excited,” exclaimed Joseph. “We’re going to have a trial month with five to seven extra minutes through the month of October and then have another meeting to see how good it was for kids. And then we’re going to get the full 30 minutes.” 

Standing nearby, Mr. Chandler would chuckle and simply state, “We’ll see.” Continuing to laugh, Joseph walked off with a grin stretching across his face.

It’s moments like this where learning becomes real. What started as an inspirational story, led to a passion that ignited in a young boy. Using the same research methods that take place in the classroom, utilizing his Chromebook and the skills he has developed with Google, and strengthening his interpersonal communication skills, Joseph’s passion was a catalyst for change.

“It just shows that kids have a voice and we do take what they say seriously. Students opinions matter just as much as any,” Mr. Chandler concluded. “This is real life learning.”

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