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An Extra Day

Cristina Pena

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Cimarron High, empty on a three-day weekend
(Larry Smith)

It's a three-day weekend for many Americans, an extended weekend to hit the beach one more time. Or a state fair to have one last food item on a stick. But more and more Americans get to enjoy a three-day weekend every week. An increasing number of towns and cities, even school districts, are adopting four-day weeks in an effort to curb energy use. It often means longer days at the office, working four ten-hour days, but there is that one extra day off.

Mary Ellen Lannon: The town of Winchester did an experiment this summer, where we closed our offices on Friday and worked a four-day work week. And we did that for eight consecutive weeks and the end of the program has just completed and I think it was a success.

I have two boys and a girl, so having Fridays off for me, personally, was a nice opportunity. The kids were able to do some tennis lessons with our recreational department and having Fridays meant that I could be the mom that got to sit in the bleachers and watch my children play tennis-which is a fun thing for me because typically I'm always at work.

I think Americans are just too rushed and I know I really did feel relaxed. I think it helps when people have a little bit more time on their hands. I mean we are definitely putting the hours in, the hours are there, but it's just in a different way of thinking.

James Gallegos: I'm James Gallegos, I'm the superintendent of schools of Cimarron Municipal School District. And Cimarron is a rural community of about 850 people in northeastern New Mexico.

Since about 1973, Cimarron Municipal schools have been on a four-day school week. I think the teachers have pretty much come into it, that that's what they want is a four-day week and I think I kind of joke about this and say, "You have to either wait for someone to die or have to retire to get a job here."

The childcare has mostly been taken care of by families-by aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents. So having that three-day weekend gives kids and families a chance in the wintertime to take advantage of all those areas in our state.

Sarah Pritchett: My name is Sarah Pritchett from Webster County High School, and I'm in 12th grade and I'm 17 years old. We did start a four-day school week while I was here at the high school. In reality, the 30 minutes extra a day isn't really that much longer after you are already going seven hours and it goes by faster then you think and it really pays off. I'd rather go 30 minutes extra any day then have to go on the Monday.

With that other day off, it gives me another day I can work so I don't have to work during the school. Then I can work on Saturdays and Mondays and then have for homework on weekdays.

Our youth group travels and we go places, so then we can spend that extra day with the youth group and not have to worry about getting back for school-and also thing like doctors appointments. We can schedule all our doctors' appointments and dentists appointments on Monday, that way we don't have to miss any school and won't get behind.

Carolyn Johnson Turner: The day that the mayor proposed a four-day work week, we were all in a staff meeting. The chief of staff came in and they were telling us, that he had some concerns, that he knew some of the employees were having a little hardship at the pump. The excitement in the room was just, wow, amazing-everybody was excited about it. Of course some people were not able to participate because some of them have small children. But for myself, it was, oh it was a blessing in disguise.

It takes me about 20 minuets to get to work and I think I save, roughly a week, like, $20 or $28 a week I'm saving in gas. So I really can see the difference in that.

It's really good because it does give me time to do some of my hobbies, some of the things that makes me feel relaxed as opposed to being at work and you know, things can get hectic, you can get stressed, your pushed for time-but being able to be at home the extra day and just relax and kick your feet up and pig out on your favorite foods and snacks. I love it.

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