By Anna Jimenez
A new semester can symbolize different things for each student; lost hope, triumph, relief, exhaustion, or a clean slate. As the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year came to an end, Parkrose High School students had more than just a new semester class schedule to look forward to.
Unlike the previous lunch schedule in which students were split into two different lunches depending on their fifth period classes, the entire student body currently has a single, conjoined lunch. Lunch is 38 minutes long, and passing time between classes was reduced by one minute. The campus is now an open campus with all students allowed off-campus for lunch, and the gym is available. Mixed feelings regarding the changes have flowed through the student body, ranging from excitement to frustration and even disdain.
“Considering the passing time is shorter and lunch is only longer by like eight minutes, it’s kind of inconvenient. The shorter passing time is definitely a negative,” senior Stephanie Tran said.
An additional concern expressed by Tran and many other students alike is the capacity for the cafeteria to host the 934 students that make up the Parkrose High School student body.
According to Principal Molly Ouche, there is a need for more seating, so additional tables have been ordered to support the single lunch.
Ouche said that the decision to convert to one lunch was made with careful consideration. The administration analyzed data, researched what other schools are doing and received input from students and teachers.
“We believe this change has a positive impact on student safety, instructional time, attendance and school culture, so we knew we needed to try to implement it,” she said.
From Ouche’s standpoint, converting to a single lunch has already caused improvements, and there has been positive feedback.
Freshman Brenda Cruz Morales is happy about having lunch earlier, but recognizes a drawback of a longer, single lunch is the shorter passing time. Additionally, she said getting lunch and finding a spot has become more difficult as well the commute from class to class.
“[The schedule] makes it harder to find a spot to eat and get food,” Cruz Morales said. “We get shorter passing time, so I’m more late to class… I mean I could barely get to class with five minutes, so like with four minutes, it’s a lot. ”
Other students have also expressed that the lunch line is longer, so it takes longer to get lunch. In order to shorten the lines, new grab-and-go options are now available.
Parkrose teachers also have shared their opinions about the new lunch schedule. Social studies teacher Alan Baird said that the new lunch schedule does not impact him personally, but he has noticed it.
“One positive effect is that I don’t have to ask kids whether they have first or second lunch. If I want to meet with another teacher, I don’t have to ask if they have first or second lunch. I actually sit and eat lunch with a couple of other teachers, and I get to sit and eat lunch with some teachers I didn’t get to sit with before,” he said.
Ouche said the administration is planning to keep the new schedule for the next school year.
“We know it’s not perfect, but overall it’s best for students, so we are committed to taking feedback, identifying what isn’t working, and improving it,” Ouche said.
Photo By Monica Maya