With the opening of the new school year changes are inevitable, but this year, it seems like a whole new environment to many.
Perhaps the most prominent example would have to be the recent use of IDs, for while in previous years their use was so minimal you could leave it at home, now it’s required to be on your person at all times. If otherwise, you risk being stopped by security or an administrator.
“It goes back really to last fall when the nation had two school shootings in relatively short order, one in Florida and the one in Santa Fe Texas,” said principal Andy Hagman. “So, what really happened for me is I just decided that I’m not happy with being passive about this anymore, and it’s time to take a more active role in securing our school.”
However, IDs alone are from the only change, lunches especially are a hot topic amongst upset students. While the food menu change may be welcome, the new lunch schedule to many, is not. Instead of the previous use of a ‘Blue’ or ‘Gold’ lunch, there are now three sets, either before, in-between, or after your third period.
“Last year with two lunches, we had approximately three thousand students, and so what that meant was that in the vicinity of fourteen-hundred to thirteen-hundred kids in each lunch period,” said Hagman. “That number of students cannot be contained in the cafeteria and patio space unto itself has to be expanded out, so that means that the greater geographic space that you cover the more supervision you need and the more entrances and exits that are now being utilized. And so, to minimize the geographic area that needed to be supervised and to minimize the number of exits, we needed to make the lunches smaller. So, we made three lunches so now you have three hundred to nine hundred kids in each lunch which can be accommodated within the cafeteria and patio area.”
While some have brought themselves to adapt, others propose a different idea: separate lunches based on grade level. This would have a specific Freshman, Sophomore, and a Junior/Senior lunch, and many actually seemed to greatly support it.
“Grade level lunches would be better,” Said junior Tara Keeiva. “you’d be able to eat with your friends and it would be much more organized.”
It seems like it’d solve all the problems faced by students in the lunchroom, right? The intense number of freshmen would be filtered into their own lunch and the others would grow smaller and easier to manage throughout the day with upperclassmen even able to leave campus in the process. Unfortunately, for those in support of the grade level lunches, it’s an unlikely possibility for the future considering just how many classes consist of multiple grades.
“I would love to do that, but the problem is that we don’t have enough pure grade level classes,” said Hagman. “Meaning that there are not enough classes with only freshman, only sophomore, etc. The majority of our classes have multiple grade levels within them, so it then becomes a problem trying to separate them.”
Yet even with all of these controversial changes for students, there are at least some certain positives in the mix, like the passing periods.
“In the past, I heard from multiple people there wasn’t sufficient time to use the restroom,” said Hagman. “and so, in order to get to one side of the building to another and to make it on time with ease we’ve added another minute.”
This year, we’ve been given seven minutes instead of the past year’s six, allowing students more time to run by the restroom if needed or actually reach their classes that are a greater distance than last year allowed. And even if someone is late to class, the altered tardy policy helps to mend the unexcused absences that had started to pile on students and their transcripts.
“In comparison to the old passing periods, I enjoy having an extra minute to get to class since the hallways are usually very packed,” said Junior Subarna Mandal.
Now, if a student is late, in the first fifteen-minute period, they’re allowed to simply go to class, though it’s still noted as a tardy by the teacher. It’s only when that fifteen-minute mark passes that they should report to their attendance clerk or administrator.
“Students were accumulating unexcused absences because they weren’t turning in their tardy slips and so it was creating the problem of unexcused absences rather than tardies which wasn’t accurate. So, we’re trying to be more efficient and effective with the execution of a student being tardy and accounted for,” said Hagman.
For many students, this has become a positive that have taken down the long lines that was seen last year with the tardy stations and instead provides a much more straightforward route to getting to class quickly and orderly.
“I think the new tardy policy is good,” said senior Shelby Hudgens. “Students don’t miss even more class than they already would be by going to get a pass.”
All in all, it’s easy to see why many students may have mixed feelings about the new and upcoming year. Though with its uneasy feelings to change, there’s always something to look forward to. It may just take some time to find just what that is. But it’ll all make it that much more worth it when it’s found.