Students question lunchtime rules

Principal Evans has made a mistake. We might not realize it now, but come winter the truth will be clear. It is not possible to put half of Ames High School in the cafeteria for lunch. The first day of school I walk into the lunchroom, just like last year. I stand in the crowded line, pick out a decent meal, hand money to some lady, and walk toward the exit. I get my student ID out one more time to show the monitors at the (overly guarded) lunchroom exit. And then I was punched in the gut. At least, that’s what it felt like. They shook their heads and said that we had to stay in the lunchroom or the junior-senior room until lunch was over. “I’m just going to the courtyard to eat,” I said, but the rules shot me down. I was told “no food outside the lunchroom,” “no eating in classrooms,” and “you can’t carry food in the halls,” but all I heard was “we’re going to ruin lunchtime.” So I moped into the junior-senior room hoping for some comfortable chairs, a television, or a table to sit at. But to my surprise, the the hangout place for upperclassmen was less than satisfying. Random uncomfortable cafeteria chairs were scattered around the carpet. The few tables in the room were already taken, people sitting cheek-to-cheek. As for the television hanging in the corner, it may be large, but it’s extremely unappealing when it is set on Comedy Central blasting American Pie 2 at a room full of high school students. I sat on a lone chair next to a few other seniors, solemnly gnawing on my pepperoni pizza. I needed to find a way out. I checked the exits one by one, stealthily sneaking along the walls and ducking under doorways, but every door was monitored. They had us surrounded. We were stuck, with no way to get to the sweet outdoors. It was the longest lunch period of my life. There was only one solution to my immediate problem: start packing a sack lunch. We have to spend hours inside all day at school, so it’s nice to be able to eat outside for lunch. So we pack a lunch and skip the lunchroom scene, right? Sure, that’s fine and dandy, but what happens when it rains? Are we going to have to eat soggy pita bread? Will soup and salad become one in the same? Someday we are going to have to go inside. And when we do, the lunchroom will be chaotic. The junior-senior room will eventually be closed like it has in every year past. Kids will try to leave the school for lunch more and more, which will cause more tardy punishments, more car accidents, too many people in a car, not wearing a seat belt, driving on snowy roads, and speeding to get to class on time. There have been cockroaches in our school since it was built. If hall monitors could spend more time checking on classrooms and talking with students and less time trying to trap kids in the lunchroom, we’d have a safe and clean way to eat lunch outside the classroom during the cold months. Teachers aren’t going to clean classrooms, and the janitors don’t want to do more work. I think that’s a much better idea. Time will tell if my predictions are correct, but I hope it doesn’t get that bad. We could see what happens when you cram half the school in the cafeteria, or we could avoid the negative attitudes in a crowded eating space and update our old way of eating lunch.