For the past five years, the library has been providing daily crossword and sudoku puzzles to any student wanting to keep their mind sharp. But the popularity of these brainteasers has skyrocketed in the recent year. The popular demand of puzzles left the library shelf bare by sixth hour, which created an increase in the amount printed.Over 250 puzzles are being printed each day this year, compared to 100 in years past.
Librarian Chris Larson has worked at East for 20 years and has never seen a craze like this, but is still not surprised by the popularity of the puzzles.
“Our school’s culture has always valued learning, and puzzles are a fun way for students to practice reasoning skills,” Larson said. “I think students also do these crosswords to help with ACT and SAT vocabulary which is great.”
Yet, the crosswords have brought some problems. Often students can be seen in class doing the puzzles instead of doing class work or listening to lectures.
“The puzzles are only meant to be a constructive way to fill the time after a lesson,” Larson said. “If a teacher takes a student’s crossword when it shouldn’t be out, that’s fine.”
Pre-Calc and Statistics teacher, Lucy Rupf, is a big fan of crosswords and finds them to be a great way to pass the time during breaks. She enjoys seeing her students getting competitive over these brainteasers, but believes that are being used at the wrong times.
“Students can be very compulsive with the puzzles,” Rupf said. “Crosswords and sudoku are actually becoming dangerous, because are being worked on during work time and lectures, which causes students to miss key information. This is why I take the puzzles away, and at times I actually finish the students’ puzzles and hand them back. That is the worst punishment for a crossword lover.”
Sophomore Eli Mitchell has had his puzzle confiscated time after time, but remains a loyal crossword lover.
“I don’t do them during work time anymore, but it never interfered with my work,” Mitchell said. “I love the puzzles because they keep me sharp and it’s very satisfying to solve a clue after 10 minutes of trying to fit different words into the boxes. It is also helpful and fun when I do them with friends, and we all help each other when one of us is stuck on one.”
English teacher, Laura Beachy, believes the crosswords and sudokus are great because of their instant results and unique challenges.
“Both are mental,” Beachy said. “They aren’t brainless like the funnies or cartoons. The puzzles are never simple and take time and one has a great sense of accomplishment immediately after finishing one. Students don’t have to wait two weeks to see that they missed a few problems. They know they have got it right.”
But, Beachy also sees the issues that the crosswords have created.
“I think that even if the puzzles are being worked on after a test or a quiz, there are still better options,” Beachy said. “Time might be better spent if students read an outside reading book, or worked on homework for another class. But, I think that part of the attraction of crosswords and sudokus is that they aren’t required. Students are choosing to them over work and that is the real issue.”
The recent distractions of the crosswords and sudokus, have led to the idea that less puzzles should be printed. Larson is considering limiting the crosswords and sudokus to 200 copies a day, in order to keep the school more green, not because of a few complaints.