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Corcoran Builds Community through Unofficial ‘Puzzle Club’

This is a photo of three staff members and a student sitting around a table with a puzzle on the top and smiling at the camera.“Which color are you focusing on?”
Corcoran senior Haley Cesare and several staff members sat around a folding table in the school library, huddled over a 1,000 piece puzzle.
As they each scoured the table for pieces to complete the ‘Dancing Africans’ puzzle they selected in celebration of Black History Month, the group chatted about everything except school or work. They debated the best kind of animal crackers, how people spell their names, old puzzles they’d completed together, and life in general. It wasn’t a group of students and staff – it was a friendly team.
“Puzzles are a great equalizer,” Library Assistant Liz Strodel shared. “They’re great for relationship building! Students and staff will come in and see it, ask what we’re up to, and usually, they’ll end up staying to try to find a piece.”
At Corcoran, Henninger, ITC, and PSLA at Fowler, puzzle tables have become the norm this year – out for students and staff to tackle during their free periods or lunch breaks.
For Haley, puzzles have been a passion since she was a young girl. She recalled the 6-piece wooden ones she started with, and the 50 State puffy puzzles she grew into.
“I’ve always loved physical or mental puzzles,” Hayley shared. “The focus and determination of doing them really motivates me! They’re really relaxing for me, even with the amount of brain focus it takes. Having the puzzles here has brought me to the library more – it makes the library more of a space where I can relax before class. I plan to attend SUNY Canton next year to study Forensic Criminology, and puzzles help keep my attention to detail sharp!”
At Corcoran, the midpoint of the school year brought with it the completion of the group’s twelfth puzzle. Students and staff groups ‘compete’ to see which of them can put the final piece in the puzzle. At Henninger, completed puzzles hang proudly on the library wall.
Corcoran Special Education teacher David Dunn said he’s helped work on three puzzles so far and has been present for the completion of two of them.

“It’s a good way to decompress during and after the week,” he shared.
Even in schools where puzzles may not be out for completion all the time, they are available for students to borrow from all SCSD high school libraries. Thank you to our dedicated Library Media Specialists for offering this fun opportunity for students and staff to clear and refocus their minds during the school day!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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