Seniors Should Have Off-Campus Lunch

Tiffany Georgopoulos, Staff Writer

Being a senior in high school is one of the most difficult years for most students, whether it’s applying to colleges, stressing about jobs, or just dealing with the heavy workload. Although students at EHHS may have a “senior lounge”, we don’t really have a place in school to have time to ourselves and relax. Even though most faculty members at EHHS believe it would be the safest option to keep kids in school all 7 hours of the day, I believe allowing seniors with good grades and good behavior to leave campus for lunch would be a solution for not only giving students a break from the stress but for several issues involving the school and our town as a whole.
Due to COVID, there have been many changes to our school environment resulting in students losing a lot of their freedom. For starters, to create more space between kids, our library turned into our senior lounge. We no longer have a quiet place to sit and take a break from the stress throughout the day. Not to mention, we can only be maskless if we are continuously eating or drinking. An off-campus lunch would provide students with time to themselves to collect their thoughts and a break from the constant inconvenience of wearing a mask.
Additionally, COVID has minimized the food options in our cafeteria. We’ve gone from having sandwich and salad bars to pick and choose what we’d like to eat to only pre-packed and pre-made food being served. When talking to Julia Erickson, a senior at EHHS, she said, “When I do eat in the cafeteria, it’s always bland options that have little nutritional value… maybe if they made healthier food in the cafeteria, I wouldn’t be skipping my lunch.” Not only have our food options been minimized but there have been food shortages for the later lunch periods (mostly 6th and 7th). Once these food shortages were brought to the district’s attention, our principal, Mrs.Smith, sent out an email to the faculty and parents looking for volunteers to help out with the cafeteria. With off-campus lunch, not only would we need fewer volunteers, but it would increase the amount of food in the cafeteria and make it so we can support our local businesses nearby.
When it comes to EHHS debating the pros and cons of off-campus lunch, the biggest issue is usually about the safety of the students once they leave the building. When interviewing the vice principals, Mrs. Collins and Mr. Naglieri, about allowing off-campus lunches, Mrs.Collins said, “It’s something that comes up all the time… Safety is the most important thing for us, so until we are sure that we could provide that buffer that students can and will safely leave and safely return, that’s the part that always causes the pause”. Speaking about the issue of whether or not students will return to school on time for their next period, Mr.Naglieri said, “Part of it has to do with students making responsible decisions off campus, because when you open the campus it would be great if we can be sure that everyone will be back on time… As you can imagine it creates issues… If there’s a problem off-campus things are often connected back to the school.”
These are valid points. In response, I propose the solution of getting a waiver form signed by parents saying that if anything were to happen to a student while off-campus, they take full responsibility, and if any of the rules that come with off-campus lunch (coming back to school on time, fooling around, etc) were to be broken, the student would have the off-campus lunch privilege revoked and possibly worse consequences like not allowing them to participate in school events.
If the priveledges of off-campus lunch were to be contingent on good grades and behavior, I believe this would push students to take school more seriously and become better students overall. When talking to a senior classmate, Samelly Serra, about this issue, I mentioned the requirements a student must have in order to receive off-campus lunch. She responded saying she didn’t know if she’d be able to have the off-campus privilege with the requirements I stated. I followed up asking if the school did happen to allow it if she’d try harder in school to get this reward, and she replied saying yes. I can only imagine how many other students would try harder as well just for this 40-minute break off-campus.
Giving students the ability to leave school for one period a day could be very beneficial in the long run. Not only would there be improvements to the school but also improvements in a student’s life overall. It creates freedom for a student allowing them to be independent, puts students into a setting where they have to be more responsible which will be great for the seniors who are going away to college, and lastly, allows students to have a break from their stressful days.