What Happened to Sophomore Open Lunch?

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Staff writer Max Larrison sits down with Mr. Williams to sort out the closed-lunch mystery.

Since receiving their schedules on the first day of school, Central High School sophomores have been wondering why their lunch periods were different from last year. Students quickly learned that freshmen and sophomores now have combined lunch. This led sophomores to question whether or not they would have open lunch during second semester. Rumors were started, perpetuated, and before long the whole school had come to the conclusion that sophomores no longer had the privilege of open lunch. The Chronicle sat down with Central Principal Mr. Williams to get the full story.

 

The Chronicle: There are lots of rumors surrounding the school’s decision to cancel open lunch to sophomores. Would you mind telling the Chronicle why some students have had open lunch privileges revoked?

 Mr. Williams:  It has nothing to do with how students act, and we would have really liked to keep it. It was definitely an incentive, mostly for attendance, but it was an incentive for students. I think the problem we ran into was twofold. One, we had to switch our  master schedule….It wasn’t nearly flexible enough for everything we need to get done, and the less flexible the master schedule is the more classes students sign up for that they can’t actually take. We needed to add flexibility, and one way to do that that we finally made the decision we had to do was take 4th and 5th period, which used to be 4th hour freshmen lunch and 5th hour sophomore lunch, and then make those sort of mixed….

The second thing we added this year was a change in the advisory periods. For the last few years, it was technically not an advisory, but rather just a 22-minute study hall. What we did this year in our planning is that there are a lot of students who need help with their courses, whether it be literacy skills, math courses, or chemistry, and so we actually built that in as teaching time….It didn’t make sense for us to say to a group of students that “you don’t have to go to that class.” Those two things really happened at the same time when we were planning for the school year. So again, it had nothing to do with students behavior-wise.

 C: Were there any other perceived solutions to the above issue?

 W: Well, we talked a lot about it, and we knew it was going to be a disappointment, but we couldn’t come up with anything that would help us address both those issues.

 C: Who else was involved in making the decision? Any other students, teachers, or parents?

 W: Because it was a master schedule situation, an issue with how we build it and that sort of administrative thing, we didn’t ask students this, because we knew what the answer would be. I’d hate to ask that question, because really there was no way it was going to happen.

C: If you don’t mind me asking, what in terms of the master schedule changed from last year?

 W: Well, so what happens is every year the teachers drive this process, and they come up with ideas for courses, either teachers or core people in the district. When you add a new course, these new courses turn in to what we call “singletons,” where they only have one course per day. Also, because AP enrollment has increased, between juniors and seniors, and even some sophomores are enrolled, the schedule had to be changed. If I’m a junior or senior, and I sign up for multiple AP courses, I want to be in all of them. Some of those are just one section (singletons), and we still haven’t been able to build a master schedule  where every kid gets everything they want, but we have to try and build it as flexible as we can, so that students who sign up for a singleton can actually get it.

 C: There are many students at Central who live within walking distance. How do you believe that decision has impacted this particular group of people?

 W: They will just have to eat lunch here and either purchase or buy their lunch like they did their freshmen year. If you think about it, they are really only losing one semester of the possibility of open lunch. Not every student made it through the criteria to get the incentive, and those who did are only missing one semester of it. Also, with the winter we had last year, it really turned into like ¾ of a semester because no one wanted to leave during the polar vortex.

 C: What does this decision mean for future Central students?

 W: It will remain the same, because we really need that flexibility. We are going to add on more computer science courses this coming year so we are still going to need that flexibility.

 

Before this interview, I, like many other Central students, was frustrated and confused by the fact that we would no longer have open lunch. It was something that I had looked forward to since the beginning of my freshmen year. I wondered what rules we could have possibly broken to have this ban placed upon us.

After talking with Mr. Williams, I now understand the reasoning behind the closing of open lunch. In fact, I now agree with the decision. I think that it is really important for students to be able take all of the classes they wish to take. I am sure that it is very hard to create a master schedule that fits with all of the classes students want to take, and when the teachers are available to teach them. If that means students have to miss out on a single semester of open lunch, so be it. After all, the purpose of attending school is to get an education.


Have an opinion about the changes made to open lunch this year? Let us know in the comments below, or tell us on twitter @champaign_chron