Open Lunch Changes Cause Controversy Amongst Students

As seen in the print edition.

By Emily May.

Woodgrove halls are buzzing with conflicting opinions about the changes made to open lunch and FLEX. Transitioning from an hour of freedom to roam the school to half an hour confined in a cafeteria, as well as having two class periods per FLEX block, is quite the adjustment. Students and teachers spoke up about the different insights on how people view these changes, and Mr. Shipp explained his reasoning behind FLEX and turning open lunch into a shift lunch.

Mr. Shipp said even though he was never really a fan of open lunch he did see the “purpose;” however, he had to look at it from a safety standpoint.

“I understand that open lunch does serve a purpose which is to see teachers, but from my point of view it’s about the environment, the structure, the safety. Safety and security are a top priority,” said Mr. Shipp.

Shipp also discussed a problem of bullying and how it is hard to control in a setting such as open lunch. Playing off of that he went in to talking about the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“These schools weren’t meant to be fortresses and there are ways to get into the building. As much as I wish it weren’t true, that is something we have to worry about,” said Shipp.

Administrators have addressed the problem and put a plan in place for those open lunch days such as stationing adults throughout the building to keep visual contact, but we need to be “as safe as possible.”

Another point Mr. Shipp spoke about is the fact that it is easier to find students on a traditional lunch shift because it is a much more structured environment. With open lunch he honestly can’t tell a parent where their child is or if they are even in the building. That brought up the attendance issue. He was very pleased that there were 140 less absences this September, but he says it’s still “not where I think it can be.”

Mr. Shipp wants students to like school and be set on a path that will launch them into whatever lifestyle they may choose after high school, but he also understands where the students are coming from in wanting open lunch. He is just trying to find a happy medium between the safety of the school and giving students time to get their work done. However, students have to earn it.

“Be here, on time, and do what you’re supposed to and that’s how you’ll get open lunch back,” stated Shipp.

English teacher Mr. Thomas Clawson stated that the decision made for open lunch was not all Shipp. The teachers had a say in a survey they filled out. The results for this survey were 53 teachers against open lunch while 47 voted in favor of open lunch.

Clawson was one of the teachers that voted for open lunch and he said, “We, as teachers, are trying to teach mature, young adults to develop personal responsibility and how to handle life lessons and opportunities they are given. 99% demonstrated that they can handle open lunch well and get the help they need or take the much-needed time to relax,” said Clawson, teacher of English 11 Honors, AP English Literature, and Dual Enrolment English.

Andrea Elbaum, teacher of AP Language and Composition as well as Dual Enrolment English, admitted to not really liking open lunch until she read numerous of her students’ essays on why it is important to them. She now sees things from her students’ perspective and agrees that open lunch can be a good thing if used correctly.

Both Clawson and Elbaum see the administrations’ points and understand the safety concerns, but they both agree that those have been addressed. When asked if she thought the students would be able to earn open lunch back, Elbaum said that there is a “much better vibe this year” and it’s “a really good sign.”

Senior Katarina Przybylowicz shared her opinion on the changes made to open lunch.

“I feel like we’re being treated as three year olds; it’s unfair that everybody has to be better in order to get open lunch back,” stated Przybylowicz.

Freshman Kaycee De Litta spoke her mind about the changes to open lunch; she said, “It’s not really that big of a deal because we (freshmen) have never had open lunch before, but it’s a little upsetting because I don’t get to see my friends. Now that we’ve had a couple days of open lunch I realize the advantages of it, like getting to eat with friends, a longer lunch time, and because it doesn’t split the block. One disadvantage is that freshmen don’t get to leave the lunch room during open lunch so it’s not that different from lunch shifts.”

As for FLEX Mr. Shipp asks, “Why not use the time as much as possible?” There are now more blocks in one week so that students can get the help they need from teachers instead of only meeting with them in FLEX once every few weeks; it’s more consistent. Teachers own that time and they have the right to deny letting people FLEX-out if that student owes them work.

Junior Carrie Merchant said that with the changes made to FLEX there is “not enough time and teachers are allowed to teach so it’s unfair, and without open lunch it is hard to make up work.”