From classroom trends to school board decisions, Class Act will keep you updated on all the school issues followed by the Star Tribune’s education reporters. Contributors include Steve Brandt, who covers Minneapolis; Kim McGuire, who covers the west metro; Erin Adler, who covers the south metro; Anthony Lonetree and Libor Jany, who cover St. Paul and the east metro, and Paul Levy and Shannon Prather, who cover the north metro.

Middle schoolers in Prior Lake-Savage to get SAD lamps to lift spirits

Posted by: Erin Adler Updated: January 10, 2014 - 1:45 PM

Every October, social studies teacher Alison Zak notices that her students start missing days of school, report more aches and pains and become more lethargic.

Since the symptoms don't subside until March or April, Zak believes many of the students have a case of the "winter doldrums" or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The condition results in depression when people aren't exposed to enough sunlight during the dark months of winter.

This year, Zak, a teacher with the ATLAS program at Twin Oaks Middle School, decided to do something about it. She applied for and received a $500 grant from the Laker Educational Foundation to purchase five SAD lamps, or light boxes.

Having "heard such great things" about the lamps, she wanted to give them a try, she said.

The lamps, which will arrive at the end of the month, will be used in her classroom during the day, and Zak will "keep track of if we see improvements in work completion, attendance and overall well-being," she said.

Zak said that while many people use the lamps during Minnesota winters, she's never heard of a school using them.

"I'm thrilled to get started with them and see how it works," she said.

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