Sunday Scoop: At-Home Enrichment in Review

Father+John+and+Father+Dick+serve+Mass+in+our+chapel+to+begin+the+Montrose%27s+inaugural+Homecoming+Weekend+in+2018.

(Credit: Adam Richins)

Father John and Father Dick serve Mass in our chapel to begin the Montrose’s inaugural Homecoming Weekend in 2018.

One of many traditions we share at Montrose is when we fistbump to share peace during Mass instead of shaking hands. The idea originally came from Father Dick, who wanted to make sure that people stayed healthy, especially when we gathered together each day in the chapel.

But in recent weeks, the health risks of even going to Mass — at school or in our hometowns — have enormously increased with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that we have all settled into our Zoom classes over the past two weeks, we can discuss how Montrosians have felt about one of the most unique aspects of our new schedules: at-home Enrichment period. From the latest school-wide Mavericks on the Move Step Challenge, to Father John’s homily recordings, there are numerous ways to stay connected to Montrose while stepping away from screens.

At school, students at Montrose are well familiar with our Enrichment period — a 45-minute window of time that occurs after our first two classes each day. Montrosians have the opportunity to use this period to attend daily Mass in the chapel or read a book in the Media Center. It’s a time we can use to reflect on our morning and enter the rest of the school day thoughtfully and intentionally.

When we received our new schedules for virtual classes two weeks ago, we discovered at-home Enrichment — a 30-minute break from 10:50 AM to 11:20 AM. But rather than the usual structure of reading or attending Mass, we have the freedom to choose how we spend at-home Enrichment. So, how has the Montrose community been spending the Enrichment period lately? 

According to a poll on the Looking Glass website, 45% of respondents said that they enjoy going for a walk or exercising during Enrichment. Another 36% like to watch Netflix or YouTube, 14% prefer reading a book, and 5% choose to do their homework.

At Montrose, Enrichment has always been a time of reflection and peace, and many students greatly appreciate that it is still a part of our schedule. However, sometimes, it can still be challenging to step away from it all. Those 30 minutes of off screen time have proven to be very valuable for students and teachers alike.

Less Blue Light, More Sunlight

The Zoom platform that Montrose has adopted for online classes has proven to be an asset for virtual education across the country. Besides some instances of spotty Wi-Fi, the interface has been widely successful and easy-to-use. Yet, our classes require extended periods of screen time — something that can feel overwhelming for all of us. 

So, to the 36% of respondents in our poll who like to watch Netflix or YouTube during Enrichment — try giving your eyes (and your brain) a break this week! If you take the time during Enrichment to get away from your phone or computer, you will be more likely to stay focused during your later classes and avoid headaches. These 30 minutes are the perfect amount of time to enjoy the outdoors and enjoy some fresh air. If you do not want to go outside, you can also catch up with family or do an activity together.

“For me, getting to spend time with family has been a silver lining in this pandemic,” said Ciara Scamby ‘21, who enjoys going on walks or chatting with her family during Enrichment. She added: “All five of my siblings and both of my parents are home, so I try to spend as much time with them as possible while we are all still in one place.”

If you take the time during Enrichment to get away from your phone or computer, you will be more likely to stay focused during your later classes. Many other schools have not integrated a morning break like Montrose has, so we can definitely take advantage of it by switching off the blue light and stepping outside for some sunlight.

Making the Most of Enrichment

Associate Head of School for Faculty and Academics Ms White helped create the new schedule and integrate at-home Enrichment. In a recent interview, she explained that on her good days, she is able to get away and step outside. But sometimes, a meeting or an email can keep her online. It’s easy to tell yourself that you should keep working and wait until the next break in the schedule.

This has probably happened to you at one point or another, whether it be while keeping up with your emails and text messages or watching Netflix. Fortunately, there is a way to combat this inclination. Ms White says that in order to completely step away during Enrichment, you should commit yourself to going screen-free and step outside or talk to a real person. Try to shut down your phone and computer and purposefully distance yourself from them — removing the distraction and the temptation. This way, you can use your time effectively and come back to class refreshed. After all, this is what Enrichment is meant for — at home or in school.

Trisha Tran ‘23 said: “When we got our schedules, I was relieved [to hear about Enrichment]. I find that sitting on a screen for a long time and listening to the teachers’ lessons sometimes gives me a bit of a headache.”

Headaches have become a common theme amongst many students and teachers. By the end of the day, we can all attest to the drained feeling we experience from screen time. Undoubtedly, our shift to online learning will continue to be a process of trial and error. For now, a great way to prevent headaches is to spend time outside during Enrichment and take a break from screens.

Along with our Enrichment period, students have rejoiced over our extended lunch break that occurs from 12:10 to 1:00 each day. Trisha said: “During lunch, I feel like I’m a lot closer to my family because we’re all together. It’s pretty cool to have our freedom. But then again, it can get a little bit lonely, because I can’t see my friends.”

Most students can relate to Trisha’s comment. Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker confirmed that all schools will be closed at least until May 4. Although we may miss our friends — and yes, our teachers too — the best thing we can do is to keep ourselves active and also keep in touch with our community.

Friendly Competition: Mavericks Step Challenge!

Excitingly, there are many ways that you can use our Enrichment period to stay connected with Montrose. Athletics Director Mrs. Boynton recently kickstarted the Mavericks on the Move initiative, which includes a competitive twist: the school-wide Step Challenge! Every student and faculty member can use their smartwatch or smartphone to track how many steps they have taken each day. Then, before 8 PM, you can submit your step stats to Mrs. Boynton. She updates the standings everyday, and at the end of the week, the winners receive a prize.

“Personally, I love some friendly competition,” said Mrs. Boynton. “I was thinking of a way we could stay connected while staying active. I know a lot of middle schoolers have FitBits, a lot of people have smartphones. The great thing about the Step Challenge is that you don’t need to be an athlete, you just need to move your body. It’s been really fun watching the steps come in!”

Last week, 31 members of the school community participated in the Step Challenge. Here’s the winners from middle school, high school, and the faculty:

Lucy Farr ’25 – 79,590 steps
Tori Morris ’23 – 84,693 steps
Mrs. Bettinelli – 81,172 steps

The Step Challenge will continue into this coming week, so be sure to join in! In addition, Mrs. Boynton shared that there are more Maverick challenges on the horizon, and everyone is welcome to participate. She added: “It’s important that we’re educating the whole person. Not just the mind and spirit, but the body. While we’re at home, we’re watching the news, binging Nexflix, and attending Zoom classes. It’s important to stay active.”

When asked about how she has spent her Enrichment periods, Mrs. Boynton said: “There’s a couple of things I’ve been trying to do lately. One is getting outside if it’s nice out. The second is that my husband and I decided to get a puppy! He’s an eight-week old goldendoodle we’re naming Bruce. I’ve been using the Enrichment period brushing up on puppy care!”

If you have a pet at home, they are probably very happy that you get to spend time with them everyday. If you have a dog, take time to play with them and bring them on a walk. They will appreciate it very much!

Reflect, Recalibrate, Respond

As the month of March comes to a close, this familiar guidance from the LifeCompass Institute seems more relevant than ever. At the beginning of March, many of us couldn’t have imagined that we would transition into online Zoom classes by the month’s end. Still, many uncertainties remain, and we do not know when we will return to North Street and see each other again. But while we are home, we all have the opportunity to take time to reflect and feel grateful for good health and a great community.

The Enrichment period is something that makes Montrose unique. It offers a chance for us to reflect, recalibrate, and respond to our situation. As we enter into the month of April, we can use Enrichment and many other parts of our day to grow closer with those around us and count our blessings.