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Keep campuses closed at lunch

September 22, 2011

I taught at Hoover High School from 1988 until 2010. In 1988, students could still leave campus at snack time as well as lunch. Tardies to period 3 and 5 were high and the traffic around the campus awful.

Neighbors complained of students having “picnics” on their lawns and porches (on rainy days) and leaving their food wrappers behind for the homeowners to pick up.

Before the campus was closed for snack time and lunch, students were asked what they would prefer to eat. As a result of student suggestions, institutional cafeteria food was changed to include a fresh salad bar. Food carts around campus offer pizza slices from Pizza Hut and Chinese take-out food, among other foods.

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On special occasions, the In-N-Out mobile truck serves hamburgers. Vending machines offer fresh fruit, vitamin water and bottled water.

The landscaping at Hoover offers many grassy and shaded areas with benches for students who just want to congregate with friends. Of course, having campus clubs meet during lunch also alleviates the crowding in the cafeteria and snack bar area.

Although my own two children attended Hoover during the open-campus era, I did not allow them to go with friends off campus. I was too concerned with their well-being. I did not want them to be in a traffic collision as students raced to and from the fast-food joints in the 35 minutes from the end of period 4 to the beginning of period 5.

In 1967, when I taught at Superior High School in Superior, Ariz., the school closed down for an hour from noon to 1 p.m. while the students went home for lunch. Teachers could go home or try to get served in a timely manner at one of the three restaurants in the town.

Few of my students had access to cars, so they walked between home and school. The stores on Main Street would lock their doors and did not allow minors inside during lunch. There was “nothing to do” at lunch except eat at home and return to school on time.

Because our contract with Pinal County Schools required teachers to live close to the school where they taught, at the end of the school day there was not the rush to get on the freeway before traffic got bad like there is in Glendale.

I cannot imagine closing down Glendale schools for an hour in the middle of the day so that students and teachers have a decent, relaxing time for lunch.

If and when Crescenta Valley High makes the decision to close the campus at lunch, there will be protesting and whining about students being in a “prison environment” (“District may end Crescenta Valley's open lunch,” Sept. 18). It is up to the administrators and student leadership to provide food choices and activities during lunch that will make being on campus “way more cool” than driving around looking for lunch spots.

After three years, no student will remember the open-campus conditions. The sophomores, juniors and seniors of “year one” will have graduated, and the freshmen will have only heard stories about the “good old days of open campus,” but have known only the reality of the safer, closed campus.

Dale Lopez

Glendale

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