The new mandatory lunch period did not cause any conflicts with student schedules, the upper school deans’ office said.
“We always have conflicts, but there were no extra conflicts created because of lunch,” Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo said. “There might have been a little less flexibility. We were able to ensure from the beginning that there wouldn’t be any conflicts resulting from the lunch period because it was just treated as a course, and the great thing is that we made it a semester course.”
In order to prevent conflicts caused by semester-long courses, the lunch period can be scheduled during one period in the first semester and a different period in the second semester.
“I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from parents who couldn’t believe that we didn’t have a lunch before,” Cuseo said. “Some people were just shocked. There have been a handful of parents who have called and said that their children don’t need lunch, but the school can’t accommodate that. Everyone needs a lunch, and there are no exceptions.”
When the school first announced its plan to introduce mandatory lunch periods this year, the deans received numerous complaints from students and parents alike who believed that the lunch period would conflict with their course choices. Most of the concerns were from students worried that they wouldn’t be able to get into the arts classes that they wanted to take, Cuseo said.
Of 285 students polled by the Chronicle, 82, or 28.87 percent, reported a missing class or class conflict that they attributed to the lunch period.
“Students were complaining about the lunch policy primarily because they were afraid that they would no longer be able to take as many courses,” Cuseo said. “They thought they could take more than seven.”
In previous years, there were only two situations, one involving physical education and the other involving directed study language courses, in which students were allowed to sign up for more than seven courses.
“Students could take up to two trimesters of PE or yoga in addition to their seven courses,” Cuseo said. “Now we’re not allowing that, but we have added an after school yoga option because of the new lunch period. We are prioritizing the lunch period for everybody.”
This means that all students who signed up for seven courses and also signed up for PE must now take yoga after school or find an alternative to fulfill their requirement, such as managing a sports team.
However, this change was unexpected for seniors who had anticipated using their eighth period to take PE.
“I think it’s unfair to me personally,” Su Jin Nam ’16 said. “For the past two years, I’ve been aware that if I left PE up until senior year, I’d be able to take seven classes and take PE during my lunch break because it doesn’t count as a full course with homework.”
Nam would rather use her lunch period to take PE than have a longer school day.
“I think it’s unfair that now I’m suddenly being required to stay after school,” Nam said. “It’s like I’m being required to have an extended school day in comparison to other people. It’s not like I’m unwilling to give up my lunch either. I would rather take PE during my lunch time rather than after school just because then I have a longer day. Also, if I want to carpool with anyone, they have to wait for me.”
Because this new mandatory lunch requires students with seven classes to lengthen their school days, the deans waived the PE requirement for some seniors who had completed all but one or two of their required trimesters and had made noticeable efforts to complete the requirement.
“The reason we did that is because the afterschool yoga option is popular, and we didn’t want classes to be overloaded because of seniors who were already close to finishing their requirements,” Cuseo said.
The only real decrease in schedule flexibility caused by the lunch period has been with directed study language courses, such as Greek, Italian or German, which students used to be able to sign up for as an additional, eighth course besides their seven normal classes. Now this exception to the seven class rule is no longer allowed.
The deans anticipate that the lunch period will be permanent for the foreseeable future, as it promotes a healthier lifestyle on campus.
“It was kind of embarrassing to say that we had never actually had a lunch period,” Cuseo said. “People would say, ‘That’s not healthy.’ This came out of the workload survey, and I think it became apparent that people were just not eating at a normal or regular time, and I think that this was a normal, reasonable, healthy response to that.”