Long lunch lines trouble some
By Emmajean Holley
Photo by Dylan Brockmeyer
Each day students in all five lunches queue up to pay for lunch in the new line system in the cafeteria.
The new cafeteria lunch line, created to reduce theft, with one entrance and one exit for students and faculty wishing to purchase food, has for some lunches caused diners to stand in line waiting for most of the 20 minutes they should have to eat.
“It’s a band-aid measure for sure,” said history teacher Olsen Houghton. “They’re trying to fix what is a serious problem, but I don’t know that this is the ultimate solution. It’s not perfect by any means. We should work to find a more permanent answer to the problem of theft, one that keeps people happier.”
“The vast majority of students were doing the right thing. Only a few students were guilty of stealing, and they were dealt with on an individual basis in my office,” said Andrew Berry, assistant principal. “Often times, it was inadvertent. They didn’t mean to steal something but the system was unclear. Now, I think we’ve improved it so that there is more clarity in the whole process.”
The new cafeteria layout, in addition to eliminating theft, aims to improve clarity and efficiency while better displaying the meal options to students.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work to make the school lunches better and healthier, and I know the people in the cafeteria have been working hard as well. This new layout is better because the first thing you see when you walk in is a balanced meal being offered – much better than immediately seeing pizza. I think it’s going to allow our kids to make healthier choices in the lunch line,” said Linda Leonard, school nurse.
“I did not make the decision regarding this new system, but I do think it’s going to work out to be better than the previous one,” said assistant principal Matthew Malowski. “In the previous system, there were a lot of people congested in the middle of the cafeteria. Now, they’re just congested in the halls. The congestion has moved, but I don’t think there is more of it.”
Some find flaws within the time constraints imposed by the new system.
“Twenty minutes isn’t enough time to eat lunch already, but now I only have five minutes. How am I supposed to do that? It takes longer to stand in line, get my food, and pay than it does to actually eat it,” said senior Celia Mercier.
History teacher Corrine Kurtz said, “I have kids coming back to class five or ten minutes late because they didn’t have time to finish eating before the bell rang, and what am I supposed to do? I don’t want to penalize kids for needing more than five minutes to eat their lunch.” “I have to choose between eating and talking. If I want to finish my lunch, I can’t talk to my friends. Lunch should be a time where you can socialize, not a time where kids have to silently shovel food in their mouths so they can get enough to eat,” said senior Jesse Thomas.
Such complaints could potentially reduce with time as students adjust to the revised process, according to Mr. Malowski. “I know that, anecdotally speaking, people are saying they have less time to eat lunch,” he said. “But it’s too soon really know for sure how efficient this system is in comparison with the previous one. I think we won’t know until the transition period works itself out. Once everyone is more used to it, I think it will work out to be more efficient.”
Senior Haley Hewson said, “This seems like a case of everyone being punished for a few people’s actions. Obviously, stealing is wrong and theft is a big deal, but this new system inconveniences everyone. It’s annoying and confusing and it takes away from valuable time. If they’re going to do this then they should lengthen lunch.”
Ms. Kurtz agreed. “Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but I wouldn’t have a problem with a slightly lengthened school day if it meant adjusting the lunch schedule to something more efficient. I think it’s an important time,” she said.
However, the implications of such a proposal are far-reaching. “Lengthening lunch would most likely mean lengthening the school day,” said Mr. Berry. “That would require huge adjustments. We’d have to re-negotiate teacher contracts and re-work the entire bus system for the elementary schools, for starters. There would be a lot.”
Theft, the core catalyst for stimulating the new system, remains another point of conflict.
“It’s very early. But I think we’ll see a lot less stealing than we did,” said Mr. Berry.
“It’s actually easier to steal that bag of chips now,” said Forrest D’Olympia, junior. “Before, you didn’t have a reason to be standing there by the shelf. Now, you can be standing at the salad dressing bar and just take the chips from right behind the lunch lady’s back.”
Making the wheels go round
By Anna Yukevich and EmmaJean Holley
Photo by Charlotte Hall
Jimmy Flynn, (far right) and the bus drivers prepare to meet students in the parking lot as they exit the high school at day’s end to get on the busses and head home.
| Junior Cord Bailey’s daily roller coaster ride on the school bus ended last week when the driver asked him to stop due to safety concerns.
The afternoon make-believe simulation used to take place as the school bus approached the hill at the end of the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. For almost a year, Cord and many other students on the bus ride to Vineyard Haven liked to throw their hands up and scream as if on a roller coaster ride. The tradition began last year when Cord was on his way home. “I decided to put my arms up in the air and yell,” said Cord. “I kept doing it and in time, supporters of the hill joined in.”
“It brought excitement and joy to an otherwise lonely and boring bus ride,” said junior Lucy Benedetto.
Cord felt that the hill was a 10-second tactic to relieve the stress of the day. “The Hill was a morale boost for students,” he said.
This year the driver, George Gamble, asked Cord to stop the activity. “It became a distraction,” said Mr. Gamble. “It was a safety issue.”
“I thought the driver and I really had an understanding about it,” said Cord. “We had done it so much sophomore year and we’d been safe, but this year he basically said no more.
Mr. Gamble told Cord that the activity was becoming a distraction both to himself as a driver and also to some of the students on the bus.
While Cord did as the driver had asked, he tried to get ofﬁcial permission from the school administration to resurrect the ride-even submitting a petition with the signatures of other students.
The roller coaster bus ride may have been a fun way for students to relieve stress after a long day of school, but it is an event of the past.
“I want the ride to be immortalized,” said Cord. His
dream may have come true, since students carry the
memory of the ride home every day.