Race Makes Memories

Students and Staff Delight in Early Release Day Festivities


Courtesy Photo

Seniors in Math Teacher Paul Bosley’s homeroom stack up in a human pyramid in the wrestling room.

River Fleming, NP Design Editor, Editor in Chief

Wednesdays have been early release days for students and staff for the past two years. Two years ago on Wednesdays, students were released for the day at 1:10 p.m. and last year, the release time was 2:10 p.m. However, this year, there has been a change regarding Wednesday schedules.

This year on the first Wednesday of each month, students in grades 7-12 will be released from school at 12:30 p.m.

Students will be in homeroom from the time they arrive at school until the time they are dismissed.

These days, students will participate in various activities planned by a committee of teachers led by History Teacher Chris Lindley and Science Teacher Lori Stroud. These activities will change from month to month, with different goals and objectives for each day.

Freshmen in Social Studies Teacher Neil Dittmer’s homeroom pose in a selfie in front of Math Teacher Kyle Chase’s spinning wheel as part of the scavenger hunt. (Courtesy Photo)

The first early release day was focused on teamwork and belonging. In the future, half days will focus on beneficial ideas such as college and career readiness and real-world needs (such as budgeting, insurance, taxes, etc.).

“Students can expect that these days will be unlike any school days they have ever had! Most of the activities will be done through homerooms or grade levels,” said Lindley.

After students are released for the day, teachers and staff will be working on Professional Development until 3:10 p.m. Teachers will be engaged in developing new lessons and activities, working on curriculum, attending meetings and learning new skills.

“Teachers at Paoli Community Schools will receive professional development that assists them with creating lessons to help close the learning gaps we are currently seeing in education,” said Assistant Superintendent Sherry Wise.

The change in the schedule was proposed by Superintendent Greg Walker. In previous years, teachers were not allowed much time for Professional Development due to complications with bus riders and issues getting to meetings. Walker saw a need for more time dedicated to the staff to help improve student learning.

Seventh graders in Science Teacher Lindsay Pritchett’s homeroom are caught in action as they compete in the wheelbarrow races in the upper gym balcony. (Courtesy Photo)

“When talking with principals and teachers, it was hard to accomplish much with the one-hour early releases,” said Walker. “By dismissing at 12:30, there will be about 2.5 hours to work on professional development.”

Walker had to await for approval from both the Indiana Board of Education and the State Board of Education before the school year’s start. PHS applied in April but did not get the official approval until Monday, August 8, four days after school began. Staff and students were officially notified of the Wednesday schedule change on Friday, August 19.

The first early dismissal day took place on Wednesday, September 7.

Students participated in the “Amazing Race” at PHS. It consisted of several different activities spanning throughout the building, including wheelbarrow races, human pyramids and a scavenger hunt. Homeroom classes competed against one another trying to earn the most points for their team.

Kassi Harkness’s senior homeroom won first place, Chris Jones’s sophomore homeroom earned second place and third place was won by Aaron Key’s eighth grade homeroom. Overall, the winning grade, with a total of over 14,000 points, was the senior class.

“I thought the half-day Amazing Race activity went really well and that students had a great time. There have been several students and teachers asking if we will do this again next year, and that speaks volumes of how much everyone enjoyed it!” said Stroud.

Students in Katy Mulryan’s class gather with Technology Assistant Robin Richardson for a photo at the tech help desk. (Courtesy Photo)

Dates for the rest of the school year have already been set for when early dismissal will take place. These dates include October 5, November 2, December 7, January 4, February 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3.

Upcoming early release day activities are being prepared for students. The first Wednesday of October will allow for students to meet with their Service Day coordinator to discuss their itineraries. There is also a motivational experience in the works, as well as a pep session. November’s early dismissal day will be the annual Speech Contest at PHS.

“[Considering the latest early release day,] The enthusiasm everyone had made all the work that went into this worthwhile. It has encouraged us to move ahead on planning for the other early release days. Thank you for the fantastic day!” said Lindley.