New Schedule Change Causes Issues For Students

Daulton Bahm, Assistant Editor

From its inception in the late 2000s until 2014, SMART (Students Maximizing Achievement with Research and Time) Lunch at Athens Drive was 55 minutes long. There was formerly plenty of time for students to eat their lunch, go off-campus without having to worry much about being tardy and there was also some time for students to get some school work done during the long lunch period. Club meetings, which often take place during lunch, had plenty of time to hold meetings. Back at that time, there was no mandatory tutorial policy, so students could relax and enjoy lunch every day as long as they had their work done.
After several years of the 55-minute SMART lunch, which was very successful and liked by students, SMART Lunch was reduced to 50 minutes in April 2014 after snow days required some extra time to be implemented into the school day. Even when the new school year began the following August, SMART Lunch was not extended back to its full length; the shortening of lunch to 50 minutes became permanent.

Despite lunch being shorter, the mandatory tutorial policy was introduced which required all students to attend two tutorials for each class every quarter. This came after students’ lunch time was already reduced by five minutes the previous spring. The 50-minute lunch schedule would be in place for two full years, and the beginning of the. While 50 minutes of lunch was overall a lot of time, it was still a little on the short side. But it would only get worse.

In September 2016, a decision was made by the Athens Drive Administration to shorten SMART lunch further down to 44 minutes, to add time to second period to compensate for ATV announcements. This does not make much sense, as it was not just second period that got extended – one minute was added to first, third and fourth periods as well. If the schedule change’s purpose was to add time to second period, it is not clear why time was added to the other classes too, as classes were already long enough at 88 minutes. A large amount of students found this schedule change unfair and unnecessary, even to the point where rumors of a petition to stop the change surfaced. The A and B lunch periods have been reduced to under 20 minutes each, which is too short of a period for anything to be accomplished. Mandatory tutorials in such a short amount of time are ineffective, and teachers often cannot give test corrections and retests without adequate time for students to complete them.
Another concern with the shortened lunch is that club meetings will have much less time under the new schedule. Not much can be done in less than 20 minutes of each individual lunch period – and this may cause numerous clubs to have lost important meeting time. Numerous school clubs, in addition to student groups such as the National Honor Society, will have a few less minutes to meet under the shortened lunch as part of the new schedule.

In addition to the concerns with clubs and tutorials, there is also another concern with the new schedule – students may not have enough time to eat lunch. With the A and B lunch periods now reduced to under 20 minutes, this causes students to have to eat lunch very quickly. According to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, students in a shorter lunch period often eat less, and food is often wasted. Eric Rimm, Harvard University Nutrition Professor, has suggested that students should be given plenty of time to each lunch in order to maintain healthy eating habits. This shortened lunch does not only impact students, but teachers as well – teachers often have to hold tutorials or meetings during lunch, and the new schedule change limits their lunch time too. In order for students and teachers to have plenty of time to eat, lunch should be a little bit longer.
SMART lunch is not even “SMART” anymore. An acronym for “Students Maximizing Achievement with Research and Time” lunch, the time part has been stripped to the point where students have become very rushed lunch period. SMART Lunch is a full 11 minutes shorter than it was three years ago – and those 11 minutes make a big difference. In order for SMART lunch to be effective, it has to be longer than 44 minutes – if that does not happen, the “SMART” title might as well be dropped. Athens Drive should revert back to the 55 minute lunch that it had three years ago. Time was not a problem for anyone. If lunch were back to its full length, it would benefit nearly everyone – whether it be students or teachers.