The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Through classes, art teachers aim to grow art appreciation

Community puzzles offer chance to rewind, disperse energy

A+student+works+on+one+of+the+many+puzzles+in+the+high+school+library%2C+which+offer+an+opportunity+for+students+and+faculty+to+take+a+break+from+work+and+engage+in+a+fun%2C+hands-on+activity.%C2%A0
Aubrey Felsen
A student works on one of the many puzzles in the high school library, which offer an opportunity for students and faculty to take a break from work and engage in a fun, hands-on activity. 

It’s quiet in the Pritzker Traubert Family Library. Students are working at tables, studying in cubicles, browsing through the shelves and relaxing in bean bag chairs. Across from the green conference room is a small white bookshelf, where scattered puzzle pieces lie on top, ready to be pieced together by anyone who stops by. 

The puzzles in the high school library offer an opportunity for students and faculty to take a break from work and engage in a fun, hands-on activity. 

Shirely Volk, high school librarian, decided with her colleagues to put out these puzzles just over a year ago, in January — national puzzle month. 

“We thought it would be a fun way to keep people involved,” Ms. Volk said, “and take their attention away from a screen.”

Ms. Volk noticed the growing popularity of these puzzles when they were first introduced. 

“When we first started putting them out, there were only just a few students that made the time or were interested enough.” 

Junior Lyra Luu was one of these students. She finds herself attracted to the puzzles for a variety of reasons.

Lyra especially enjoys the unique laser-cut puzzles that Brian Wildeman, art teacher, donated to the library.

“It is nice to have something tactile in your hand,” Lyra said. “I think it’s really good to get away from work for a bit, so it’s nice that it’s here in the library where a lot of people get work done.”

Ms. Volk also notes how the puzzles serve as a healthy distraction for individuals, along with a social activity for groups. 

“I think for some of the students it’s nice for them to focus on it in terms of taking a break from their schoolwork,” Ms. Volk said. “Also, it can be really social, or something you do solitary.”

Kerry Tulson, assistant director of admissions and financial aid, enjoys completing puzzles at home with her family, and she makes sure to bring families by the puzzles in the library when giving tours. 

“It’s a nice way to relax,” Ms. Tulson said. “If you have some free time during the school day, I think that it’s a nice way to decompress.”

Similarly, junior Asa Bordelon appreciates the relaxing aspect of puzzles. 

“I feel like they’re calming,” Asa said. “I can just do it and not think about stuff too much.” 

While puzzles are a great way to take a break, they can also build mental skills. 

“I think puzzles also help you with a lot of other skills, too,” Ms. Volk said, “like strategy, planning and problem solving.”

In addition to building these skills, Ms. Volk notes how puzzles reflect greater ideas. 

“It’s also like a metaphor for life,” Ms. Volk said. “Ultimately, all the pieces fall into place.”

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About the Contributors
Jaya Alenghat, City Life Editor
Jaya Alenghat is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as an assistant editor. She began journalism in the 2022-23 school year as a sophomore. Her favorite story she has written is “In finding community, English teacher provides comfort for Latinx students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing tennis, reading and spending time with friends and family. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, news writing
Aubrey Felsen, Photographer
Aubrey Felsen is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. Her favorite part of photojournalism is taking sports pictures. Outside of photojournalism, Aubrey enjoys the weekends.

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