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West Allis high school steps away from the 'traditional lunch'

From playing music to sitting in a classroom, students and staff are given a 40-minute free time to recharge.
Posted at 6:37 PM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 19:37:56-05

James E. Dottke high school in West Allis has created a one-of-a-kind lunch hour where students and staff are free to find a way to de-stress.

The traditional lunchtime in a cafeteria isn't always for everyone, which is why the students at Dokkte High are using their 40-minute span to do the things that they want to do.

From playing the drums or violin to sitting in a classroom or hall, students and staff are given a 40-minute free time to recharge. The program is called flex 40.

It's a way for teachers to interact with their students away from a typical learning environment and create meaningful connections in a space they feel comfortable in.

Both teachers and students can pick a space almost anywhere in the school during this time.

For teacher, Rob Tegtmeier, also known as "Mr. T," he enjoys spending his flex 40 in the school's bike shop.

"Its a recharge for both students and teachers in the middle of the day," said Mr. T.

That recharge is much needed. The school started the program three years ago after taking a district-wide survey.

"The feedback that the team at Dottke was getting at the time was the stress and the mental health concerns outside of staff and the students needed something different during the middle of the day," said Diedre Roemer, Director of Leadership and Learning with the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.

For students like Maleah Marrero, she likes to de-stress from classes by shooting some hoops at the basketball court.

"The reset you know get to move around since we've been sitting around. It relieves stress for me sometimes and enjoying what I like to do," said Marrero.

So far, Dottke is the only school in the district with a flex 40 program. The district intends on being open to creating more innovative ways to learn away from the traditional.

"That 'yes and mentality' is our mentality across all of our school's sites," said Roemer.

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