‘You can’t sit here’

Alice Yu

Seniors Clayton Warder, Elaine Phillips, Jodie Bappe and Jesseca Alexander spend their lunch in the chemistry hallway outside of room 336 Thursday, Nov. 5. With an increase of students this year, administrators are more lax on letting students eat lunch in instructional areas. Signs like the one pictured above, as well as signs saying, “No Lunch Area” appeared on the walls of the chemistry hallway last week as a response to the increase in noise level. 
[heading size=”14″ margin=”10″]Increase in noise and trash may result in closed instructional hallways[/heading] [dropcap]F[/dropcap]or senior Asa Linneman, the big question during lunch isn’t who to sit with; rather, it’s where to sit.
The lunch group Linneman eats with, which consists anywhere between four to 10 students on a given day, has relocated four times in the past two years. They migrated  from the choir wing to a total of three places surrounding the auxiliary gym, and then finally settled in the chemistry wing hallway. Their reasons for moving range from obstructing pathways to supposedly leaving trash.
“It sucks because there’s not enough seats for everyone to sit in the cafeteria and I don’t want to sit with people who are always loud and leave trash everywhere,” Linneman said. “There’s no place to sit and I like to sit with my friends.”
Assistant principal Dr. Tim Baker also acknowledges the lack of seating in non-instructional areas. With an increasing class size — for this school year, roughly 1000 students have A lunch — and a cafeteria that can only hold a couple hundred kids, there’s really no choice but for students to spill into the hallways.
“The colder it gets, the more kids stay put for lunch. They’re not sitting outside, they’re not getting in their cars, so it gets more and more congested, and when that happens, people push boundaries in the instructional areas,” Baker said. “Honestly, one of the main problems we have with instructional areas isn’t really the noise, it’s the trash. Most kids are great. We have very few problems, but when we do have a problem, we have to start pulling it back.”
While the math tunnels are known to harbor the most noise and trash, mostly because they are removed from the majority of classrooms which allow lunch groups to play games, signs such as “Quiet Please,” and “No Lunch Area” appeared in the chemistry hallway. According to Baker, the chemistry hallway hasn’t been a major problem. Neither are the other instruction hallways, mainly because lunch groups are cooperative when asked to keep it down or relocate.
“The policy is no eating in instructional area, period, and we may have to start enforcing that completely, if need be,” Baker said. “Really, we didn’t want to correct a problem if there wasn’t a problem, so if kids were handling it okay, we were letting it go.”
Two years ago, administration opted to lock the doors to the math tunnels in order to decrease the amount of trash and noise, strictly enforcing the no eating in instructional areas policy. For honors chemistry teacher Stephanie Harman, the lack of hallway courtesy isn’t new.
“It’s been an issue since I got here eight years ago. I’ve been sticking my head out the door for eight years,” Harman said. “As far as the groups at lunch, when they get much bigger than about two or three or four, they start having to holler over each other.”
[quote cite=”Dr. Tim Baker, assistant principal”]“Honestly, one of the main problems we have with instructional areas isn’t really the noise, it’s the trash. Most kids are great. We have very few problems, but when we do have a problem, we have to start pulling it back.” [/quote] But in honors chemistry, class time is rarely peaceful and quiet. With a majority of class time spent working together in groups or completing a lab, it either has to take a lot of noise or be a test day for Harman to give students in the hallway a warning. For Linneman, whose lunch group sits right outside of Harman’s classroom, she’s well aware for the need for quiet and makes sure to satisfy that need.
“I think it’s a good idea to keep the hallways quiet during class time, but they should trust us to be quiet,” Linneman said. “They should trust us to be quiet because there isn’t enough room in the cafeteria.”
Meanwhile, Harman doesn’t mind the lunch groups sitting outside her door, but is willing to take action to uphold a learning environment in her classroom.
“It doesn’t bother me until it bothers my students. Once it starts bothering my students, then I’m going to say something,” Harman said. “It’s like anything else in this building. If you can do what you’re supposed to do and not disrupt someone else’s learning, I don’t have a problem with it, but when it gets out of control, or you are not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, I’m going to say something to you, especially if it’s starting to bother my students.”
Do you think it is fair for some areas to be restricted during lunch?