This school year Viroqua High School students are being encouraged to put their phones or devices away during the school day and “hang out” with one another between classes, during lunch, and before and after school.
Black and orange wristbands with the phrase “Viroqua High School…Hang Up & Hang Out” were handed out to students Sept. 7 (seniors received theirs Sept. 18) as a reminder to put down the phone and socialize.
Principal Kathy Klos got the idea from her son who runs track in college. She said as she was watching a meet, she noticed the athletes did not have their phones or devices.
“I asked him, ‘Why don’t you have your phones?’ ‘What is the rule?’,” she said. “He said, ‘We don’t have a rule, we agreed as a team to hang up and hang out.’ I thought that’s kind of cool that they agreed to it as a team and were not told to do it.”
Klos said she wants to have VHS students consider putting away their phones or devices at lunch or other times of the day and talk to the person next to them.
“Dean of Students Eric Anderson and I monitor the halls, and last year we wondered why it was so quiet,” she said. “There was less interaction with one another (because students were on their phones). I am not saying it’s gone away completely.”
During morning announcements, Klos has been reminding students to “hang up and hang out.” “I want them to at least think about it.”
She said some students have been wearing wristbands, others have not. “For some, their devices are very important to them. I didn’t anticipate (all students) would stay off their devices at lunch.”
Klos said she wanted to create an awareness and promote students getting to know one another. “We want them to leave high school knowing their classmates.”
Seniors Ryan Hannah and Mallory Hanson said “Hang Up & Hang Out” is a good idea.
“At first I had mixed emotions,” Hannah said.
“I thinks it’s a good thing,” Hanson said. “As you get older and converse with adults more you realize you are on the phone more than talking to one another. It’s a good thing to integrate into school.”
Hannah said the initiative will make a difference.
“I believe kids want to be on the phone and want to talk to people (in person),” he said. “It’s (also) a way for teachers to talk with students and encourage students.”
Hanson said student look up to Klos and their teachers.
“They don’t realize it because we are on our phones,” she said. “We appreciate them for what they give us. I think phones kind of hide that.”
Hanson said there will be students who don’t like the idea. “Seniors can set an example and show the younger students it’s important.”
“It’s better to hear seniors start conversations (with younger students) rather than text them, especially when you’re sitting next to them,” Hannah said.