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Principal's Message

August 1, 2017



Greetings Maxwell Families!


I hope all of you had an enjoyable summer and are excited for a new school year! The staff and I can’t wait to see you.


As the principal, I appreciate the help and support that you have given me in my two years here at Rhoda Maxwell School. We continue to build community and parent involvement at our wonderful school. Last year, our cross country season was a huge success. How fun to see so many students participate and all the families in attendance encouraging all our runners. With our PTA and ELAC parent involvement, we had other events that drew large participation: La Posada, Carnival, Beautification Day, and Science Night. I look forward to these and even more events for our students and parents this year.


For new and returning families, we are putting a lot of effort into trying to communicate with you again this year. Coming home the first week with your child will be some information about our school. Please take a few minutes to read our handbook and colored brochure. You will want to keep these items at home to reference throughout the year. Parents, this year you can also access Aeries for information on your child as well as a current calendar of events at our school. We will send you more information regarding Aeries in our first newsletter home.


In an effort to get our students to eat lunch and to improve the transition time back into classrooms, we have studied and would like to implement the concept of play then eat during our lunchtime. Please see article below for additional information.


As summer comes to an end. I want to remind everyone that school officially starts on Monday, August 21 at 8:15. This year we have scheduled an ice cream social on August 18 at 3:00 where you can meet your new teacher. We hope you can attend.


This is going to be another amazing year!  Please know that I am honored to serve you and your children here at Maxwell School.


Go Dragons!


Brad Clagg

Principal, Maxwell School




New York Times

Play, Then Eat: Shift May Bring Gains at School



strong  Children playing before lunch at Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J.  Kids are calmer after they ve had recess first,  the school s principal said.    span class

Children playing before lunch at Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J.

“Kids are calmer after they’ve had recess first,” the school’s principal said.


Can something as simple as the timing of recess make a difference in a child’s health and behavior?


Some experts think it can, and now some schools are rescheduling recess — sending students out to play before they sit down for lunch. The switch appears to have led to some surprising changes in both cafeteria and classroom.


Schools that have tried it report that when children play before lunch, there is less food waste and higher consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables. And some teachers say there are fewer behavior problems.


“Kids are calmer after they’ve had recess first,” said Janet Sinkewicz, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J., which made the change last fall. “They feel like they have more time to eat and they don’t have to rush.”


One recent weekday at Sharon, I watched as gaggles of second graders chased one another around the playground and climbed on monkey bars. When the whistle blew, the bustling playground emptied almost instantly, and the children lined up to drop off their coats and mittens and file quietly into the cafeteria for lunch.


“All the wiggles are out,” Ms. Sinkewicz said.


One of the earliest schools to adopt the idea was North Ranch Elementary in Scottsdale, Ariz. About nine years ago, the school nurse suggested the change, and the school conducted a pilot study, tracking food waste and visits to the nurse along with anecdotal reports on student behavior.




By the end of the year, nurse visits had dropped 40 percent, with fewer headaches and stomachaches. One child told school workers that he was happy he didn’t throw up anymore at recess.


Other children had been rushing through lunch to get to the playground sooner, leaving much uneaten. After the switch, food waste declined and children were less likely to become hungry or feel sick later in the day. And to the surprise of school officials, moving recess before lunch ended up adding about 15 minutes of classroom instruction.


In the Arizona heat, “kids needed a cool-down period before they could start academic work,” said the principal, Sarah Hartley.


“We saved 15 minutes every day,” Dr. Hartley continued, “because kids could play, then go into the cafeteria and eat and cool down, and come back to the classroom and start academic work immediately.”


Since that pilot program, 18 of the district’s 31 schools have adopted “recess before lunch.”


The switch did pose some challenges. Because children were coming straight from the playground, the school had to install hand sanitizers in the lunchroom. And until the lunch system was computerized, the school had to distribute children’s lunch cards as they returned from recess.


In Montana, state school officials were looking for ways to improve children’s eating habits and physical activity, and conducted a four-school pilot study of “recess before lunch” in 2002. According to a report from the Montana Team Nutrition program, children who played before lunch wasted less food, drank more milk and asked for more water. And as in Arizona, students were calmer when they returned to classrooms, resulting in about 10 minutes of extra teaching time.


One challenge of the program was teaching children to eat slower. In the past, children often finished lunch in five minutes so they could get to recess. With the scheduling change, cafeteria workers had to encourage them to slow down, chew their food and use all the available time to finish their lunch.


Today, about one-third of Montana schools have adopted “recess before lunch,” and state officials say more schools are being encouraged. “The pilot projects that are going on have been demonstrating that students are wasting less food, they have a more relaxed eating environment and improved behavior because they’re not rushing to get outside,” said Denise Juneau, superintendent of the Office of Public Instruction. “It’s something our office will promote to schools across the state as a best practice.”