A Shift to Three Lunch Periods
By Eva Mandelbaum
Mr. Martinez has announced that the high school will likely follow a new schedule next year. According to the proposed schedule, WPHS will follow a nine-period schedule with three separate lunch periods and three designated lunch areas, as opposed to this year’s eight-period schedule with one lunch period. There is no doubt that this change will be an adjustment for everyone. Although there are many differing opinions buzzing around WPHS regarding next year’s changes, students are provided with the opportunity to voice their concerns and get more information regarding next school year.
At an informational meeting with students and administrators on May 24, 2022, Principal Martinez, Mr. Vitiello, and Ms. Hall emphasized the importance of working together as a community to adapt to next year’s changes. “I think it’s important to know that there are definitely going to be some shifts in the building. There is going to be some give and take. We have to have some flexibility,” emphasized Mr. Martinez.
This school year and in the past, students have relied on their lunch period as a time for club meetings, extra help from teachers, and social connections with peers and teachers. Mainly as a result of unsanitary seating arrangements (students often sit on the floors of hallways during lunch) and a concern that not everyone receives food due to long lunch lines and a large student body, there will be a shift to three separate lunch periods next year. There will be three designated lunch areas so students will all have a place to sit and will not disturb classes, but students will be allowed to eat outside in the warmer months, and juniors and seniors will still be allowed to leave campus.
This schedule change raises many concerns about next year, including the question of how to get extra help from teachers. “For my world history AP class this year, I found it extremely helpful to go in for lunch reviews. There have also been multiple instances throughout the year where I have gone into a teacher to work on a project. With multiple lunch periods there would be no guarantee that the teacher would have time off during my scheduled lunch, which would make it harder to get help,” said one student.
At the May 24th meeting, Mr. Martinez explained that finding the time to get extra help next year will be a conversation that students will need to have with their teachers. Ms. Hall added that students can sit in on a class taught by their teachers during lunch. “[When I was in high school], I grabbed my lunch and I went back to my math class so I could get the class again,” she explained. “So, it’s about flexibility and many of you [can also] use your study halls to get extra help from teachers.” Despite a schedule without a common lunch period, students can still find ways to get extra help and support.
Additionally, multiple lunch periods will push clubs to after school, causing concerns regarding balancing sports, clubs, and other commitments if they are all after school. One student shared, “I think that this is a plan that requires a lot more consideration and shouldn’t be just kind of pushed forth for the next year. Especially because I joined my clubs knowing I could attend all of them. I became officers of them, knowing that I wouldn’t need to miss them because of the things that I do, and now all of this happens. I’m dropping clubs. I'm dropping possible colleges.”
Mr. Vitiello explained, “We’re hoping to get some ideas for how to improve upon this and say this is the structure we’re moving forward with, what can we do as a community to help students find a way to balance between clubs and sports.” It was also emphasized that students should not have to choose between extra help and sports. “I spoke to our Athletic Director Cameron in making sure that coaches should never ever scrutinize you for being late to practice because of extra help… it’s just as important,” Mr. Martinez explained.
An additional source of support that is being explored is a block of time at the end of the school day between school and sports designated for students to receive extra help from teachers and possibly meet with clubs. This schedule would require slightly shorter class periods. In addition, there will be a unit lunch once a month designated for whole school events, which includes club showcases and events.
Along with these changes, security measures will be increased next year. Students will receive color-coded ID cards which will be used to ‘swipe in’ to classes for attendance. ID cards will also be linked to students’ lunch periods to ensure that students go to their designated lunch period.
Ms. Degraphenreed, advisor of the school’s Sci-Fi Club, a community known for its inclusivity, stated, “Having clubs during lunch has allowed the WPHS club community to thrive and be truly equitable and inclusive. Our clubs are second-to-none, and I believe part of the vibrancy of our club program is because all students had access to them during the school day. I am certain there will be students that will no longer be able to attend after-school clubs for a variety of reasons (employment, transportation, sports, family responsibilities, etc.), and fully expect there to be a decrease in club attendance, which is heart-breaking. However, Sci-Fi club has always found creative ways to make it work, and we will continue to do so. I know the students in our club will do whatever they can to continue making Sci-Fi Club a welcoming and inclusive community.”
Overall, there must be some give and take; clubs and activities may decline, but the safety of students may improve. Despite the changes in store for next year, as with the Sci-Fi Club, all clubs and White Plains students will be challenged to adapt to the new schedule.