Lunch: Rest or Rush? Students and faculty reflect on lunch schedule

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By Alexis Rutledge on October 29th, 2015:

Rushing from the class, squeezing through the hallway traffic and standing in line. This is the daily routine of hundreds of students after the lunch bell rings.

With a large amount of students and a limited amount of time, many students and faculty have begun to question the lunch system at Northwest.

“I think we need more time than 20 minutes at lunch because after we stand in line to get food, there’s no time to eat,” junior Ansley Keith said.

Even for students who bring their lunch, time can be an issue.

“If you’re doing anything else during lunch, like making up a test or taking club pictures, you don’t have time to eat,” junior Emily Mothershead said.

Students eat and work on school work during lunch.

Students eat and work on school work during lunch.

The lunch schedule affects teachers, too, as students leaving class and returning to class cuts in to the actual time allotted for teachers to consume their lunch.

“[Lunch] feels just as short for teachers. By the time I wait for all my third period to leave and get my food prepared, there’s barely any time left for my actual lunch,” English teacher Jennifer Humbard said.

The restricted amount of time that students and teachers have for lunch causes many complaints, but another concern comes with the length of fourth period.

“[The lunch schedule] makes it difficult to have fourth period be so much longer than my other classes,” Humbard said.

With such an extended period, it can be challenging for teachers to choose how much they want to teach their fourth period class and when to schedule tests or quizzes. If they teach the students more than the other classes, then they will be ahead of their other periods throughout the whole year. However, if they teach the students the same amount, then the students will finish early nearly each day and will waste time.

“If I taught a fourth period class with a lunch that splits the period, I’d be concerned that the students would talk about the tests and quizzes during lunch,” Latin teacher Parker Jackson said.

Jackson works the first half of the day at Grimsley High School, which has a different way of handling the lunch schedule. Grimsley has two lunches that are each 40 minutes long. Students either go to lunch after third or fourth period and therefore, the classes are not split.

“It’s nice for the students because they get a 40-minute break during the day,” Jackson said. “It’s enough time to eat, plus extra time to work on homework and visit the media center. Some teachers offer extra tutorial during their lunch period, or allow students who were absent to make up assignments in that time.”

Students at Northwest often wish that they had the same lunch plan as Grimsley, but due to the size of Northwest, it makes planning lunch periods more complicated.

“I am partial to Grimsley’s method, but I don’t know if it would work at Northwest because there are more students here,” Jackson said.

One possible solution to the issue is to have two 40-minute lunches, like Grimsley does, and permit seniors and juniors to go off campus. This would allow the upperclassmen to have enough time to get food and return on time. The absence of these students in the lunch room would also reduce the length of the lunch lines for students buying food.