Unstructured lunch break offers more than just time to eat

At Windsor High School, students have a slew of options, including 16 honors classes, 22 Advanced Placement/Dual Credit classes, career and technical education classes, and 40 sports and activities. Having a lot of options is great, but can also lead to jam-packed days for students without much flexible or self-directed time, such as they would likely experience after graduating from high school.

To offer unstructured time within the school day, the district created Owl Time.

By changing the three-shift lunch into a single 58-minute period, students can eat their lunch at any time during the period, and also get tutoring, meet with friends, or collaborate on projects.

Since Owl Time started in 2014, discipline referrals have gone down. One year into the project, by as much as 15 percent! Tardiness has also gone down, as students who were late for school more than four times could not participate.

In addition to giving students an opportunity to get academic support, access technology, or have a little time with friends, Owl time gives students a taste of self-directed time that can help prepare them for college, careers, and life after graduation in general.