My son just entered 9th grade at Hanover High School, in Hanover, New Hampshire. I mention the school by name because I want to call it out publicly for a shocking decision it has made. Hanover High School does not have a lunch period. The school is a highly competitive institution notorious for a cheating scandal that made national news in four years ago; more than 50 students succumbed to the intense academic pressure and used stolen exams to pass their tests. This is a school that piles on tests and homework, and prides itself in preparing students to be accepted to prestigious colleges. Apparently, they have decided that when it comes to trivial pursuits like eating, the kids are on their own.
Hanover High School has found time in their schedule for half-hour “Activity periods,” when clubs meet. They have even scheduled in so-called X periods where students can sit around and do nothing for an hour. And yet, they can’t find time to give the students regular, daily lunch periods. Students are expected to grab food and eat it during one of their sporadic Activity or X periods or actually in class.
I address this next part to students at Hanover High School. You may already have been conditioned to think that not having a lunch break is acceptable or even normal. Well, it’s not. Common decency dictates that all people in our care deserve a lunch break. It’s a basic sign of respect, and in most places it’s a legal requirement. Bakers get lunch breaks. Construction workers get lunch breaks. Doctors and nurses get lunch breaks. Prisoners get lunch breaks. All of the people who work in your building get lunch breaks. The school is contractually obligated to give your teachers lunch breaks. The administrators get lunch breaks. The para-professionals get lunch breaks. Everybody gets a lunch break but you.
The Hanover High school web page presents the school’s mission statement:
“Hanover High School is an active learning community that provides broad academic and co-curricular programs. We engage students’ minds, hearts and voices so that they become educated, caring and responsible adults.”
I question whether the school is run by “caring and responsible adults.” What sort of caring and responsible adult would organize a school that doesn’t show the basic level of respect to its students that a lunch period demonstrates? I think the school needs to engage students’ stomachs, as well as their hearts and minds, and I urge students to engage their voices and demand to be treated like human beings, with dignity, decency, and lunch.
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