Students Need Time To Play

By Susan Black

Recess is one of my sweetest school memories -- up until sixth grade.

Even when temperatures dipped below zero, my classmates and I couldn’t wait to zip up our parkas and buckle our Arctic boots. We’d dash to the playground and pank snow into elaborate forts. (Panking, a word mainly used in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, means packing snow so that it sticks together.)

In spring and fall, we’d play baseball with a chipped wooden bat, a lopsided ball, and clumps of sod for bases. We made sure that teams were evenly matched, and that everyone -- including the smallest kids and the stragglers -- had a chance to play.

I still shudder when I recall sixth-grade recess.

My teacher picked our baseball teams, and he assigned our positions. I played shortstop, but one day he ordered me to the mound to replace Johnny, our pitcher who had a dislocated shoulder. I threw wobbly balls short of the plate and walked the first batter. My teacher forced me to walk, too -- to the sidelines, where I spent the rest of the year. 

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