Niagara Catholic allowing fidget spinners in classrooms

May 30, 2017

Some schools across the country are banning a popular new toy called fidget spinners. But one school in Western New York allows students to keep the spinners in their hands during school hours.  

Roman Sanders, 7th grader, demonstrates a Fidget Spinner.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"I use it when we're reading articles or when the teacher is talking, under my desk so I'm not distracting people,” said Roman Sanders, a 7th grader at Niagara Catholic Junior-Senior High in Niagara Falls.

Sanders demonstrated the tri-hand spinner device, which he says helps him concentrate and focus. 

“Sometimes I just tap my foot, I can just flick it and I pay attention,” explained Sanders. “Do you think it helps you?” asked Buckley. “Yeah” responded Sanders.

“It prevents them from doing other things that would be much more distracting,” explained Matthew Harrington, a social studies teacher. Harrington allows his students to use the spinners in classrooms.

“I allow it, if it doesn’t become a distraction. So the students, they’re cooperative. They know what not to do with them when it becomes a distraction they know to put it away,” Harrington explained.         

Some experts say the spinners are helpful to those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and anxiety. Other experts believe the cause too much distraction. Some schools across the nation have decided the device is not appropriate for cassrooms, but Niagara Catholic Principal and President Robert Cluckey tells WBFO News he is leaving the decision up to his teachers.  

Niagara Catholic Principal and President Robert Cluckey holds a Fidget Spinner.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“What made you decide that it was okay to have the toy device in their hands?,” Buckley questioned.

“They sort of just showed up in school. I didn’t notice any real problems, but what I had noticed was a lot of publicity about them and banning them. It prompted me, as I did my walkthrough, to look to see if kids were using them. I talked to the teachers, that sort of thing,” Cluckey answered. 

“There are some teachers that just said, ‘We’re not going to have them out in class’, however, most just said as long as they’re not a problem, they’re not a problem. It’s not widespread us, but there’s a significant among of students using them, like Roman, who is a quintessential middle schooler. He is a very bright young man, but he is going to fidget in some way, shape or form. He sits on his feet, he has to stand every once in a while. In order for him to keep concentrating on what’s happening in a classroom, he needs to move. And I don’t want to misconstrue that I’m out, overtly advocating for them, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t just automatically outlaw them and suggests that they shouldn’t ever be used by our students," said Clucky. 

Outside Niagara Catholic in Niagara Falls, NY.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

WBFO asked Clucky what he would say to other schools that ban the spinners.

Fidget Spinner.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I’m not going to judge them, I can only tell you here, most of our students are very cooperative and they know if they’re using it in a way that is not the way it’s intended to use and if we ask them to put it away, they put it away,” Clucky responded.     

Clucky noted through the decades, there’s always been a fad that has ended up in the classroom. He recalls his time in school using toy tin clickers.

“We use to have these little clickers. I’m not proud to say that I certainly used them for the sole purpose of annoying. It had no personal benefit whatsoever other than amusement,” Clucky recalled.