December 30, 2018

New GOA lunch program leaves students dissatisfied

Eva Hale ‘20

Due to new lunchtime changes, the Ulam has a different feel this year. It is crowded, loud and hectic. Students rush the iPads to pick up lunch, run to the walk-up line, knowing if they’re too late they’ll have to wait in a long line, or they may even not get food at all.
“I think it's horrible,” junior Gavi Newman said. “It's the worst idea the school possibly could have come up with.”
Sophomore Kira Kress echoed Newman’s sentiments.
“I don't like it,” she said. “I feel that there's nowhere to eat my lunch and it's insanity to eat my lunch on the ground.”
Many high school students, like Kress, feel they’ve been pushed out of the Ulam.
Since middle school students still aren’t allowed to leave the Ulam during lunch, high schoolers are forced to find a place to eat elsewhere.
A couple weeks ago, a group of juniors and I were eating under the stairs,” junior Ben Bargad said.
Now high schoolers are squeezing into the overcrowded Ulam, or cramming the hallway floors, the library, empty classrooms, or the SAR looking for a place to eat.
“We [freshmen] just think that we were excited for high school lunch and we got that stripped from us,” Oren Ramer said.
Ramer added that many ninth graders are upset they don’t have the opportunities they had been anticipating throughout middle school. For Ramer, he plays basketball almost every recess and he says that with the middle schoolers their, it often gets overcrowded.
“If it was up to me, the lunches would have stayed separate,” he said.
The faculty has given reason for the changes to the lunch program as well as feedback of their own.
“The goal of having one lunch period was for the middle school and the high school to be able to interact,” said guidance counselor Ms. Schenker, “so that the middle school students could see all of the opportunities that the high school has.”
Head of the lunch program, Crystal Hopkins, agrees with Ms. Schenker, who recognized and agreed with the criticism the new program has been receiving.
“The downside is that a lot of high-schoolers don’t have a place to really ‘dine’ and sit, and hopefully, before the school year is over, we can come up with a plan that gives a place for all of you.”
Mr. Herskowitz, one of the leading advocates for the new lunch program said “The combined middle and high school lunch period allows for students across grades to mix together and collaborate in many areas of student life.” Herskowitz also gave advice as to how high schoolers could become more comfortable with the new program, giving suggestions so that high schoolers might be able to work through the problems of the new program. “I think high school students are finding more spaces to be productive and comfortable during the lunch period. We also added two lunch tables into the ulam to allow for more seating.”
Although the prevailing feelings among high school students and faculty are negative, middle school students have been looking on the bright side.
Joey Askin, a seventh grade student, said that while it is crowded, “people have learned not to mob the lunch room all at once.”
Mia Schwartz, a sixth grade student, is choosing to keep things in perspective.
“This is better than the lower school,” she said. “At the lower school, we had a buffet lunch and I think this is much better organized.”

For high schoolers, this new lunch program has taken away their time, and the faculty recognize their perspective. Middle schoolers are at their clinics, involved in their clubs and are in the Ulam. For some, this offers improved interaction between older and younger students, but for most, this takes away from the experience of those high schoolers who enjoyed their lunches on their own.

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