• September 21, 2019
A view from the main stairwell on the first day of school. Because it was the freshman’s first day of school, most didn’t know where to go which caused further confusion and crowding (Photo used by permission of Violet Thorton).
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With the start of the 2019-20 school year comes new students, new classes, and new rules. 

After the arrival of Leesville’s new principal, Dr. Solomon, he brought with him a new wave of change — specifically to SMART Lunch.

Although there was a huge initial push back against the new AB lunch, students more or less calmed down and accepted the new schedule up until the first day of school. 

To put it simply, students have A or B lunch based on their third period teacher. Juniors and seniors can still go off campus, and anyone who stays on campus can eat lunch in either the multipurpose room or the cafeteria.

Sounds pretty okay right? Not so fast.

On paper, the plan doesn’t sound too bad. Yes, students could be split from their friends for lunch, but plenty of other schools in Wake County act on an AB (and sometimes C) schedule — so this isn’t really anything out of the ordinary.

The problem comes in terms of bathroom usage and where students can go during lunch. Students have access to three main areas during lunch: cafeteria, multipurpose room, and the courtyard. Any other areas including teacher’s rooms requires a pass, which all teachers have.

The school blocked off certain areas around Leesville because of the number of students wandering during lunch. This is a valid point, and there certainly was a need for change so teachers weren’t constantly monitoring every hallway.

But the problem occurs when students have to wait 7+ minutes to use the restroom, since most of the restrooms are in inaccessible areas. Usually, teachers tell students that lunch is the best time to use the restroom if they are unable to use it during class change or during class, but with lines that long, it’s unfair to students who are just trying to use the bathroom.

Ashlyn Ray, freshman, ate lunch in the multipurpose room on her first day of high school and experienced multiple difficulties. “Lunch on the first day of school was really unorganized, and it took me like 10 minutes to get to the multipurpose room from the main building because it was so crowded,” said Ray.

Students are frustrated about club use as well, as around 6-7 clubs occur each Monday either during A or B lunch, causing overlap with other clubs that students are already in. “Clubs with this lunch feels restricted, and it really limits you in getting involved in multiple organizations,” said Cooper Rhodes, senior. 

Clink on this link for more information about the new club system.

Besides clubs, students now are unable to go to teacher’s classrooms during lunch — unless they have the same lunch as their teacher. 

Ren Cox, junior, feels frustrated as he is taking Calculus, but all three teachers have B lunch while he has A. “The new schedule is making it unnecessarily hard for me to make up assignments and tests, get additional help for certain subjects, and use the resources the school has to offer,” said Cox.

He adds that the only possible times to receive help are before or after school, but most students have after school commitments and many need the extra sleep before school.

Many students who have A lunch also complain of being extremely hungry during fourth period, as their lunch begins at 10:28 which is more like breakfast for high school students.

Because lunches are split up, students have less time to go off and get lunch, even if they are just going to their houses nearby. Students have 40 minutes to go off instead of 54, which prompts students to speed either getting out of the parking lot or coming back for class.

“One of the big reasons they made this lunch was to make it more safe…but nothing’s safe about a bunch of teenagers speeding to get food, so they can be back in time,” said Rhodes.

Overall, students and parents alike are not happy with the situation. A picture of an extremely crowded hallway on the first day of school circulated onTwitter and eventually landed in the hands of Leesville parents who are now very concerned for their child’s safety.

Sophia Antanitis, senior, tweeted out the photo of the crowded main entrance during lunch and made sure to tag @WCPSS in the tweet. “[I tweeted the photo because] I just want people to realize that this new lunch schedule is not necessarily the best thing for our school because we have just too many students…[Mr. Solomon] calls it a safety measure, but it’s just a safety hazard,” said Antanitis.

As the first week of school is almost over and concerns are high, students, teachers, and parents alike can all hope for next week to be an improvement and answer some very important questions.

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