School Highlight: Beach Days

School+Highlight%3A+Beach+Days

Matthew Forcier, staff writer

Usually, when the average student thinks of school, they think of sitting in a chair for six hours with the only sort of physical stimulation being walking from one class to another and moving a pencil over a sheet of paper. Thanks to one of our own teachers and plenty of others who had the same mindset as him, some students have the opportunity to take trips to the beach on days known as Beach Days. 

A beach day is when an Earth science teacher, like Marine Biology or Earth/Space, dedicates a day to taking their students to the beach. These trips happen around once every two weeks and takes students either to the beach at Navarre Park or the one over the bridge next to the park. At the beach, students can either sit back and watch the waves, walk around and explore the beach, or get involved with a multitude of tools like nets and Ghost Shrimp pumps. The findings from the net and pumps are carried back to school in a bucket, where they are then put into the fish tanks in the teacher’s classroom. The fish put into the tanks are eaten by the bigger fish most of the time, but sometimes a juvenile crab or a mollusk will stick around and grow in the tank. Not only do students get trips to the beach in these classes, but at the end of each semester, teachers take their kids to McDonalds as thanks for being respectful at the beach. That didn’t happen this year due to COVID-19, but once normal starts to settle back in, so will McDonalds for the beachgoers.  

The concept of beach days existed all the way back in the 80’s, around 40 years ago. Those 40 years ago at Gulf Breeze High School, two men by the name of Mr. Dan Noonan (who currently teaches marine biology and oceanography here at Navarre High School) and Mr. Bill Price (who was a marine biology teacher that ended up being the assistant superintendent of the school later on) banded together to make beach days a reality. “…he and I basically got us started- and since I had my bus driver’s license, because I was a coach, it was an easy way to get the kids to the water,” Noonan said. At some point between the construction of beach days and now, Noonan transferred from Gulf Breeze High School to this high school. Not only did he bring his teachings to a new group of students, but also to teachers as well, which is why multiple teachers do Beach Days. 

Despite how short beach days may seem because of them having to be fit into one period, giving students and teachers a chance to have a break from being indoors all school day to go outside to somewhere like the beach is very important for a multitude of reasons. For starters, humans need to be outside every once in a while. According to Time.com, staying indoors for long periods of time can cause anxiety and insomnia. Moving to the positives of being out in nature, being outside actually has healing properties. SelectHealth.org states that being outside can help people feel less pain and can help people heal faster. They also say that being outside can help with losing weight and absorbing vitamin D easier.

Not only can being outside help physically, but it can also help mentally. AskTheScientists.com explains that being outside helps relieve stress, increase focus, promote calm, and enhance short-term memory. Both those physical health and mental health positives coming from just being outside should be enough to encourage the average person who doesn’t go outside enough to change that. The final reason as to why going outside is important is that it sparks curiosity and entices people to learn more about the planet they’re going to be living on for their entire lives, which is, at its core, why teachers do beach days to begin with. The reason Noonan takes his students to the beach is “so that the students could actually see what’s in the water because the majority of them have no idea, and from that, they gained knowledge of most of the juvenile forms that we catch so they get to see what they look like as juveniles. When we bring them to the classroom and put them in the tank, they get to see the predator-prey relationships and it’s fun because a lot of them had no idea that fish ate other fish …,”

McConnell brings her students to the beach because “it’s an opportunity to connect students with our Earth… going out into our own environment because the more you understand and the more you get your hands on it, the more you want to take care of it.” Given that these beach trips are happening during school, it is only logical that they would have educational intent behind them, but once you go out on the sand and take it all in, you start wanting to know more not because the class is requiring you to learn it, but just simply because you want to learn. 

This planet, as far as space programs are concerned, is the most unique one ever to be conceived by the galaxy. To not go outside and relieve the mind while also learning a thing or two would be a complete disservice to the millions of years of evolution it took to get here. 

Sources: 

https://time.com/4306455/stress-relief-nature/#:~:text=He%20says%20jet%20lag%20and,and%20other%20diseases%2C%20Wright%20says. 

https://selecthealth.org/blog/2019/07/10-reasons-why-being-in-nature-is-good-for-you 

https://askthescientists.com/outdoors/