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Glen Rock Middle School Lunchtime Policy a 'Disaster,' Critics Say

An 8th-grade student has received 250 signatures on a petition to return to full-period lunch times, claiming the split period promotes unhealthy eating and negatively impacts wellness.

The experimental lunch time period at Glen Rock Middle School has created quite a mess for students, according to an 8th-grader who pleaded with the school board to re-evaluate the trial system Monday night.

The new, experimental lunch protocol splits the 45-minute period into two 22-minute sections – a study hall and a lunch time. Each grade is separated, with one half eating first and the other studying first.

The system was implemented on a trial basis this year to limit the lunch room to no more than 100 students so as to better supervise students, who must stay inside due to ongoing construction, Interim Superintendent Ray Albano said.

But eight-grade student Madisen Siegel – and at least 250 students who have signed a petition to return to the old full-period lunch – want the trial program to end, and soon.

Siegel said those relatively fortunate enough to eat lunch during the first section get a full 22 minutes to munch and four minutes to head to the lockers.

If the student's schedule stipulates eating lunch during the second half of the period, they're often forced to scarf down unhealthy food – if there's time, that is – and race to the lockers to make the four-minute cut-off to reach the lockers and get to the next class.

It simply isn't enough time, she told the school board and Superintendent Ray Albano. The policy poses a danger with socializing and pushing developing children to eating junk food, Siegel says. Her research suggested 30 minutes of time to eat lunch.

"Shortening the lunch period only encourages students to either eat unhealthy foods that they can eat quickly, or to not finish their lunch and remain hungry," she said, citing a national health survey. "Neither of these is a good option."

"It's a disaster," parent and BOE candidate Liz Carr added. "I'm vehemently opposed to this."

Carr's daughter often returns home with a half-full lunch box claiming she didn't have time to eat, she said. Carr also noted the students are still navigating the world socially and the short lunch period deprives them of opportunities to interact.

"I would like to invite you people [board members] and the administration to buy lunch, eat lunch, go to the locker all in 20 minutes time and get to class," she said.

According to Siegel, the trial policy is a contradictory one in the first place. Full grades eat lunch together on Fridays, seemingly at odds with the rationale for creating the new times, she said.

Siegel, who found support from audience members and was credited with having poise beyond her years, said she didn't feel the middle school administrators had been very responsive to the students' grievances.

Albano promised the administration would be closely examining the impact of the experimental lunch and he'd set up a meeting between her and the middle school administrators.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Freddie September 29, 2012 at 12:10 AM
While I applaud the efforts of this young student, if you read the article carefully you will see what the major problem in the American education system is. People (Parents) think they are entitled to challenge things because they just don't like the change. Parents not in agreement of the decision??? Parents never agree with anything that the GR schools do mainly because they enable their kids beyond belief. My child misbehaved in class. How dare you say that, my child is an angel. This has been the best decision made by the assistant principal. (Second best was the one that all students must be out of the building at 3:30. Way to go Mr. Hutchinson, finally someone making some changes.) Parents if you really think that the administration is making a decision that negatively impacts your child (which is what you all think once the school make a decision that you don't like), then I have an idea for you. There are many of you out there who have the luxury of sitting home. Volunteer your services for one month of the worst duty in the history of school, LUNCH DUTY! I guarantee after one month you will be agreeing twenty-two minute lunches are the way to go. Also, how is 22 minutes not enough time to eat??? Forget the school lunches that are sold, go to the supermarket and pack your child's lunch. This way they are not wasting a minute on the lines and have more time to eat.
Quantanya Richardson September 29, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Yeah, Freddie has it all together, More whining by GR parents. Pack a lunch for your kids and stop complaining. How is this policy "forcing" kids to eat unhealthily? And as for Thompson not addressing concerns, gee, what a shocker. A deer in the headlights, this guy.
Kathleen Walter September 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I am pretty surprised at how few comments there are as of yet. Anyone who does challenge this policy really should go do lunch duty at least once to really experience whether your children have enough time to eat and to watch the mess that they make! There is no place to go outside to play with the construction and this is really the most workable solution. A well thought out, well executed solution. No matter what anyone says, school is not a place to socialize. The kids have a job to do too.
Jean Urmston October 02, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Before anyone jumps to conclusions about the newly implemented lunch schedule, try serving lunch duty for a DAY. Most of the kids are finished eating in 10 minutes. Teachers have to constantly hound the students to clean up their messes, recycle, stop wandering around the cafeteria, and generally behave themselves! They couldn't go outside for the second half of lunch unless they had finished eating, and miraculously enough, they ARE finished. Stop whining. Kids can make their own (nutritious) lunches.
Quantanya Richardson October 05, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Amen. That says it all! Let's move on to more substantial issues. Park those hovering helicopters in the garage, parents!!!!

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