Open lunch may be revoked

During each of the two lunch periods, students spill into the cafeteria, which quickly becomes noisy and crowded. Ames High students endure this experience for the first two years of their high school career until their junior year. However, the upperclassman privilege of open lunch—the freedom to leave campus during their lunch period—is in danger of being taken away as the administration and Student Council try to collaborate and come to a decision about the fate of open lunch. Earlier in the school year, discussion began about potentially closing campus for juniors and seniors. A committee made up of sophomores Cody Brown and Ezgi Ustundag and junior Scott MacDonald from Student Council was formed to get students involved in the decision-making process. “The original plan was to close campus for juniors and seniors to account for a deficit that we’ve accumulated during the past 30 years,” sophomore Cody Brown said. According to Brown, if the school district were to sell more lunches, the government would reimburse the district for those lunches, and the money from that reimbursement would go towards reducing the deficit. Over the past few months, the motives behind closing campus have moved beyond financial reasons; lunch may possibly be closed due to a variety of other reasons, including academic purposes. “Teachers think students are late to their 6th period class because of open lunch,” sophomore Ezgi Ustundag said. However, these claims have been found to have little validity. “We looked at statistics and found out 6th period is not a major period where kids are late or absent, so there’s no academic reason to close lunch,” Ustundag said. Safety has also been cited as another possible reason to close lunch. “People think there are a lot of accidents, bumps and scrapes in the parking lot,” Brown said. Although closing lunch may address certain problems that come with the current system of open lunch, students are expecting other issues to arise if closed lunch were to be implemented. One major snag that will undoubtedly come up is students trying to sneak off of campus. In order to avoid this problem, certain steps would have to be taken; however, these actions appear to be costly and burdensome. “There are 70-some exits around the school; we’d need to hire people to guard all of these,” Ustundag said. “We can’t afford to hire any more people,” Brown said. “Teachers would have to use their lunch periods to guard doors.” Another problem that would come up with closing lunch is having to accommodate for a larger number of students within the cafeteria. Currently, the cafeteria is already a cramped, chaotic place during both lunches; closing lunch would inevitably exacerbate this problem, as more students would be forced to eat lunch in the cafeteria. To lessen this potential problem, the proposal of having three 25-minute lunch periods has been presented to the student committee, which has been met with skepticism. “You wouldn’t be able to take tests, do labs in science class; there wouldn’t even be time for teachers to lecture,” Ustundag said. Even before an official decision has been made, the student committee has noticed the opposition against potentially closing lunch. Many students are against the idea, and Student Council is currently working towards creating a survey to gauge students’ feelings towards closing lunch. Students are not the only ones against closed lunch, however. “Parents and teachers aren’t overwhelmingly in favor of closing lunch,” she said. “[If lunch were closed], they’re not going to be able to control people for the first couple of years,” Brown added. “We are expecting some sort of backlash.” The decision-making process has recently come to a halt amongst all the conflicting opinions. The members of Student Council are evenly divided among opening lunch for all students, keeping lunch closed, or just keeping the current open lunch system as it is. For now, the future of open lunch is unclear. “We’re really evenly split,” Ustundag said. “Honestly, I don’t know how they’re going to resolve this.”