High school students should be allowed to go out during lunch

by Harleen Saberwal, Staff Writer

We sit in classrooms all day. No sunlight, no fresh air. The captivity of grey walls and hallways constantly cramped with other people. The long winter days of staying inside the jail-like building for more than seven hours. Us students need a break from this imprisonment for even up to nine hours of school. We need to be able to have a variety of foods to pick from, so they suit our dietary needs and give us a break from the already stressful days. This is why sophomores and juniors should be able to go out for lunch.  

For starters, the Board of Education would save a lot of money if students in sophomore and junior years were allowed to go out for lunch. Students would be spending their money on restaurants outside, or fast food stops. Not a lot of students value the lunch food provided by the school, and the lunch ladies spend their time and effort on food that the students do not even appreciate. Less money would be spent by the BOE, as more students would enjoy going out to eat their lunch. The money from the BOE could be used for something the school and the students in the school would actually value, such as better desks, new books, or well- working laptops.

Allowing tenth and eleventh graders to go out for lunch can also be a way to teach students time management skills. As we grow older, it is important for us to manage our time well so that we use it efficiently. As a sophomore myself, I know that it is highly important for me to be there on time for different events, and as I get older, this will include being on time for my job. If students arrive late after lunch, the school can always give them a tardy. It teaches students to be extra careful with what they can do with one hour of time. They have to figure out how far they want to go for lunch, and also how long it will take them to be back at school. In a way, this benefits students in the way that they will learn to use their time wisely. 

Not only will students learn time-management skills, but they will also have more time to relax. High School is already stressful, and Sophomores and Juniors are preparing themselves for major exams such as the ACT or the SAT. On top of this, they have college application processes, AP, honors, college level, and advanced courses that they have to work hard in. And you certainly can not forget about midterms and finals! This hour during lunch will give them time to de-stress and go out to smell the fresh air. Students may even use the time to study for classes or catch up on their outside of school work. In a 2012 study, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her colleagues at USC and MIT used an fMRI scanner and examined neural activity when the brain was in “default mode”– a state of rest that is associated with taking a break. During this state, the brain is still very active, however, it focuses on a different set of regions lighting up than when we’re focused on the outside world. This experiment shows that the default mode is important for consolidating memories. It helps shape how we make sense of our lives and helps us reflect on the day. Breaks keep brains healthy and they especially play a role in abilities such as reading comprehension and divergent thinking, which is the ability to generate and make sense of novels. 

In addition, going out for lunch is a way to support local businesses that are in close proximity to the school. For example, Glen Rock has pizza places such as John’s Boys and Francesca’s. These local businesses will have more customers, and it will be a great hang-out place for many students. On the other hand, students that have specific dietary needs can make a trip home to have their needs met. Instead of having to rely on cafeteria food and checking ingredients to see what foods they can eat, they can now feel free to travel to their own home or specific food places to eat. 

Many adults may believe that students who leave school during lunch spend their time participating in dangerous activities such as taking drugs or under-age drinking. This is where responsibility comes in. Students should be able to make decisions for themselves and make the right choice. Breaks are an essential part of learning, which is why this 1-hour break to spend outside of school is important to have. Students will have a break from school to let their minds relax, and on top of that, they will come back refreshed and ready to learn again. Sophomores and Juniors will learn to be more responsible, as they will learn to manage their time.