For 20 minutes a day, creating calm for stressed-out students is part of the daily routine.

Soft SkillsAt Roosevelt High School in Seattle, the mandated 20 minute break known as “Rider Time” named after the school’s Roughrider mascot gives students an opportunity to stop, listen to announcements, relax, or check up on schoolwork.  On Thursdays, mindfulness techniques have also been introduced.

Last year, the stress at the academically competitive school hit a new high.  Two students committed suicide within two years, and the number of students diagnosed with attention deficit disorder rose. Student anxiety was everywhere, and the staff felt compelled to act.

The 20 minute period in the school day was carved out of shortening each existing period by five minutes. Rider time is not held on assembly days, so the impact on instructional time is minimal.

“We find ourselves always functioning on this low-level panic, and I think we are seeing that more and more,” said U.S. history teacher Karen Grace. “Life continues to speed up, and kids don’t have the life experience and tools to figure out what to do with that.”

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