Volunteers help with students' first recess

Volunteers help with students' first recess

CHAMPAIGN — After navigating their very first lunch in the Barkstall Elementary cafeteria, kindergartners headed out to recess on the school's playground.

And as they spilled out the double doors leading to their new blacktop, several adult volunteers waited, ready to explain the rules of the playground and give students advice on making the most of their recess time.

Near the basketball hoops, volunteer Kamrhon Claiborne and Orlando Thomas, the school district's director of achievement and student services, explained that even though they're playing basketball, they need to keep their hands to themselves and only have one game at each hoop.

Near a cart filled with hula hoops, balls and items for playing, Molly Hamilton told the kindergartners they needed to be respectful and share.

Near a large play structure with slides and balconies, volunteer Lauren DeWitt told students they needed to slide down one at a time, and not jump off the top.

The volunteers were there Monday and Tuesday to teach new students about the rules and expectations of the playground, and refresh the memories of the older students, said Peter Foertsch, Barkstall's assistant principal.

The school uses a framework for supporting students and letting them know how it expects them to act, Foertsch said. Adults may expect the students to behave a certain way on the playground, he said, but the kids have to know the rules in order to follow them.

Using a bullhorn to make himself heard, Foertsch also explained to the students that when they hear one whistle, they need to stop what they're doing. Two whistles means they need to put away the equipment they're using and line up with their classes to go back inside.

It took a while for the kindergartners to get there, and they had some trouble focusing on the volunteers during recess.

But once they'd gone inside and the first-graders took their places, they were able to listen more carefully and quickly remembered the whistle routine.

Kartila Brooks, who's a playground supervisor at Barkstall, said she welcomed the volunteers' help.

They were a great help, "just to get everybody rounded up and make sure they know what the rules are," Brooks said.

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