Two identical-looking golden crowns: one real, one fake.
The mighty Hiero II has ordered you to determine the real one– an impossible task in the first century BC, an age before computers, analytical balances and chemical glassware.
Despite the daunting assignment, you take on the challenge, working day and night, for the answer. After hours spent deep in thought, you decide to take rest in a steamy Greek bath. Slowly, the answer seeps into your head and you hurry to the king. You quickly use your newfound displacement method to discover the true makeup of the crown and astound the world with a new scientific breakthrough.
Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, solved that unworkable problem through the essential utilization of leisure time.
His teachings appear to CHS students every day in Chemistry, Math and Engineering classes, yet Archimedes’ most important lesson is often overlooked
Lunches and free periods often disappear in the push for academic excellence. With only eight periods in the day, many students believe they must cram just one more AP class into their schedules.
These students are misguided. Rest is most important when recalling information and performing under high stress situations. According to the Ohio State University Memory Tips, “When you’re relaxed, you absorb new information quickly and recall it with greater ease and accuracy.”
But this is not new information and Clayton is an exception to many other schools, allowing students to have lunch free schedules. Homer Turner, Junior Grade Level Counselor, said, “Coming to Clayton, this was new to me seeing students without lunches built into their schedules. Then I found out there were even some students who not only did not have a lunch period but also did not have a free period in their schedules. I feel like it is an unhealthy situation to be encouraging.”
Turner, a newcomer to CHS from Newton South High School near Boston, MA, said, “At my old school, which was very similar to Clayton, the students all had lunches built into their schedules. And the rigor was just the same. They were just as high achieving. However, the way they used that period was up to them: whether they used the period as a free period, to seek help from a teacher, to make up a test, or to just have some down time.”
In addition to the free period, the absence of that fifth AP course will lighten a student’s schedule providing more time for sports, personal interests and, most importantly, sleep.
Sleep is essential in retaining information. The consolidation of the day’s memories occurs during sleep making it essential in creating long term memories. Moreover, physical recovery, growth and development are all stimulated during sleep.
According to the National Institute of Health, “A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep with no negative effects. However, research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.”
Still, one of the main concerns students have is the fear of falling behind the competition. High achieving students raised in the competitive Clayton environment are taught these detrimental lessons before positive ones can be instilled.
As a long time counselor and observer of the college admissions process, Turner testifies, “I reached out to some deans of admissions of some very selective schools (the University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Harvey Mudd College) and I threw the question about students having lunches to them and not one came back and said that was fine. Colleges are interested in kids coming to their campuses with a healthy predisposition about what education is about.”
The high achieving Clayton mindset must shift its focus from the relentless pursuit of transcript building AP classes to the true learning for learning’s sake.
Turner said, “Colleges feel that kids who believe they are okay and don’t need a break come to their schools with the wrong type of mentality. They want kids to come to their schools who have balance: good, healthy balance. Balance means rigor plus a down time.”
Ultimately, students are still growing. Their brains have not fully developed, and, although Clayton leniently provides many opportunities for students to exercise their independence, mental and physical harm should not result from that freedom.
If students take the time to enjoy high school, they will be not only enjoying better mental health, but they will also learn to manage their spare time. Opening their minds to the possibility of a break may result in their own “Eureka” moment.