Rise Up for Recess

Cooped-up kids, unite! You have nothing to lose but your desks.

It's perfect, Barbery thinks. "They've got a show on their [ABC Kids] network called Recess," Barbery explains, "and its motto is 'recess twice a day when once a day is not enough.' I think that alone speaks volumes."

Twice a day! That sounds pretty good to the kids at Limestone Creek Elementary School in Jupiter. In the rare instances when students in the upper grades get recess, they can't go out to the playground to play. That's because the school does not have one for them. The equipment was removed last summer for safety reasons, and a new one hasn't opened. During the few minutes when the children are freed, they sometimes play on a track of cinder block they call the "bus loop."

Bradley Hoffman, a fourth-grader at the school, sighs as he remembers "way back in first grade" when he was let out for recess every day. "Those were the good old days," he says.

Ten-year-olds Jared Heidt and Tyler Howard miss recess
Colby Katz
Ten-year-olds Jared Heidt and Tyler Howard miss recess

Bradley, a pale reed-thin boy with a shock of blond hair, cannot stay still for a second. Sitting in his chair, he switches positions more often than President Bush. He drums his fingernails on the table and taps his feet against the chair legs. He clucks his tongue and speaks fast.

"Recess and gym are my two favorite subjects," he says. "Without them, I would die."

Bradley's mom, Kathy, says that the boy and his older brother, Brian, come home moody and depressed when they don't get recess. She can tell right away by the looks on their faces whether they have been given the break that day. When Kathy complained to the boys' teachers about the lack of recess, they responded favorably and allowed a little more playtime. But Bradley still doesn't know whether there will be recess each day.

He knows he's lucky, though, to be granted it at all.

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