Guest Writer Will Dales
You’re three or four years into your high school career, your lunch bell rings, and the underclassmen race through the halls to be first in the lunch line, enthusiasm oozing out of them. You finally make your way into the lunchroom, and the all too familiar scent of school lunch fills the air. Instead of getting a meal like you did your freshman year, or just a drink so you could be somewhat refreshed like your sophomore year, you decide you want to eat out. The only problem is Loy Norrix has a closed campus, and unless you pack a lunch, the only thing offered is school lunch.
“Upperclassmen should have the right to an open campus for lunch,” said Loy Norrix senior Delano Swift. “The bread is just so dry, the taste of off campus food is better, and depending on where you go, the food could be healthier than school lunches.”
The cafeteria is the only place in the school that serves food, and it’s no secret that the majority of students prefer most any fast food place over a school lunch, which is why Loy Norrix should have open campus lunch. The main concerns with open campus lunches are that students leaving the school will not return or be late to their next class, and accidents within the school parking lot could easily happen if every upperclassman is leaving and returning around the same time. Although these are clearly logical concerns, they are both arguments that can be completely deconstructed with reasoning.
“In my opinion,” said freshman academy assistant principal Kelly Hinga, “[The main concern of open campus lunch] would be the safety of students because we can’t control what they’re doing when they leave the campus, and they could miss instructional time.”
Her concern is 100 percent reasonable, but the overall purpose of high school is to prepare us for college. The responsibility we would have to return to school on time would show that we are trusted as the young adults the school is preparing us to be.
The more serious issue Hinga mentioned is the increased chance of accidents that could occur in the parking lot when a bunch of students are lining up to bust out of school and eat their favorite meals. To address this concern, the administration could easily limit the number of people leaving as well as making open campus lunch a reward for good grades and behavior.
First off, this doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. At the beginning of the trimester, students could sign up for one or two days a week that they are allowed to leave school for lunch, which would reduce the risk of an accident in the parking lot. Color coded student IDs could be used to signify which students are entitled to leave on which days. The right to an off campus parking pass could also be bought, which could be used as a fundraiser for the school. Another way to limit the chance of accidents in the parking lot is by reducing the number of cars moving by letting only juniors and seniors leave school for open campus lunch.
After checking out and getting to your car, there would likely be 25 minutes left in your lunch period. Pizza Hut, Subway, and Lee’s Chicken are all within a 25 minute round trip, including the process of ordering, waiting for, and receiving your food. The food would then be eaten in the period following lunch.
Open campus could also be used as a reward. Only students with a 3.0 or better GPA and no issues with behavior in the classroom would be allowed to leave campus for lunch. If their GPA drops below a 3.0 or there is a behavior issue, the administration could suspend their off-campus lunch privileges. All GPAs and behaviors are monitored by eSchool, which students can use to prove they’re allowed to leave school. This not only limits the number of cars driving around in the parking lot at one time, but it encourages good grades and behavior in the classroom.
“Whether it’s allowed or not, there are some students who are going to skip anyway,” Swift claimed. “The question is whether or not you want to punish them or flip it for the positive.”
Open campus is a win-win for the students and administration if used correctly, and it can even be used to increase students’ GPAs, behavior, and ultimately the rate of graduation.
Open campus lunch sounds like a terrible idea right off the bat, but with certain restrictions and proper compliance, it would make a difference in the Kalamazoo Public School district.