In the beginning of the year, I had a difficult time finding a place to sit during lunch. Tables were already taken and benches were completely packed. Being a freshman and not being able to find my proclaimed lunch spot felt like the cliché high school experience.
When trying to find a lunch table, incoming freshmen are yearning for a fresh and welcoming start, not a slap to the face by the upperclassmen. The whole purpose of lunch time is to socialize and rest – how can that be accomplished when lunch time is so competitive?
The patios are organized by grade, and although some different grade levels sit together, a majority of students in the same grade cluster into one section of the school. Upperclassmen need to enjoy their last few years of high school, their last few years of lunch time. It can be frustrating for them to have to deal with freshmen snatching their iconic tables.
Through a social aspect, students feel the need to sit where they “belong.” A part of the high school experience is branching out to try new things and explore, which can only be done if students stretch out and find new friend groups.
Speaking from personal experience, I understand that finding new friends can be incredibly intimidating, and it is even worse when it’s done during lunch time. The majority of this issue stems from limited seating, which forces students to eat their lunches on the ground, on stairwells or in the hallways. This leaves students to block and crowd exits and entrances, which is a serious safety violation.
The cafeteria is relatively small and is an unattractive environment. Even when weather conditions are poor, students would rather huddle in classrooms than eat in the cafeteria.
If the school made some sort of effort to beautify the cafeteria, more students would be drawn to eat there. Even something as simple as changing the lights, fixing the vending machines or hanging artwork on the walls could act as a simple stride forward.
For those who prefer to eat outside, there should be a larger supply of tables. If a group is lucky enough to find an outdoor table, it most likely does not have an umbrella to shade them from the sun. Students shouldn’t have to waste their 35 minutes of lunch time searching for an appropriate place to sit. There is enough room to place at least ten more tables around campus, and the greenspace is the perfect example of wasted open space. Even if the number sounds small, it could create a drastic difference in allowing friend groups to eat their lunch on a clean surface. If there are multiple tables available for them, students will no longer have to sit in the grass to eat their lunches. Better yet, a patio could be built to offer more stability for the tables and create an aesthetic atmosphere for the greenspace.
Given these options, the school has a wide variety of ways to fix this ongoing problem during lunchtime.