Mealtime Madness

Students wait in lines in front of the five food windows during

District officials examine possibility of splitting lunches due
to large crowds at GHS
Gilroy – As the end-of-lunch bell chimes, Lori Jeske peers from behind the snack shack window and tells a teen what remains of the menu: two burgers and a turkey sandwich.

Other students rush through the line, buying snacks and drinks even after the three-minute warning bell rings, hoping to fill up before sitting through another two hours of class.

But Jeske, who works in the Gilroy High School snack shack, doesn’t pity her customers. She moves them through the snack bar line fast, handing out pizza slices, salads, cartons of milk and pieces of fruit to between 160 and 180 students within 20 minutes.

And the students have 40 minutes to eat.

“So you know they’re not standing there,” said Jeske. “They’re moving through. Most of them wait ’til the last minute.”

MaryAnn Boylan agrees that the lingering lines aren’t a result of an overcrowded campus, they’re just the typical actions of procrastinating teens.

“It never ceases to amaze me,” said the GHS assistant principal. “At the three minute bell I have to get kids away.”

But Boylan and Jeske’s opinions aren’t shared by all. Local parents have complained about overcrowded lunches. Some parents have suggested that the school split the lunch time into two to accommodate GHS’ burgeoning population.

A block schedule committee has been charged with examining the pros and cons of dividing lunches into two. Split-lunch-supporters claim the school will be safer if fewer students are packed onto the campus at noon, but Jose Hernandez couldn’t disagree more.

Two lunches would mean packing two separate crowds of about 1,300 students into the small quad, a move that could cause serious security issues, said Hernandez, a GHS biology teacher and intramural soccer coach.

Students wouldn’t be able to use the basketball courts or the hand ball courts because the gym would be occupied by students in the other lunch period. And splitting up students ruins the cohesive climate of a high school.

“It destroys any type of school pride,” said Hernandez. “It would eliminate intramurals.”

The intramural soccer team plays in the gym during lunch for eight weeks in the fall and spring.

A Gilroy native, Hernandez attended South Valley Middle School and he detested the split lunch system. The lunches were divided into A and B groups and it wasn’t fun to get placed in the opposite group of your friends, he said.

That’s exactly why Jessica Muñoz hates the prospect of split lunches.

Everyone wants to have lunch with their friends and students would ditch class to hang out with their buddies during their lunch, said the 17-year-old senior, while hanging out with some friends near the cafeteria Thursday afternoon.

The line into the cafeteria appeared long but Muñoz said it’s deceiving since many of the students aren’t really in line, they’re just standing around.

A visit to the campus revealed that students were waiting in line at the snack bars, up until the bell rang, but the lines moved quickly. Also, the actual cafeteria where students picked up food wasn’t crowded, even 20 minutes or so into the lunch period.

But not all of GHS’ students are content with the way things are.

While waiting in line at the snack shop, John Pipkin, 15, said he often has to eat on the way to class “or else you have to throw it away because you can’t eat in class.”

And Eric Caballero, 15, said sometimes he doesn’t have time to eat and then he can’t concentrate in class.

Hernandez has heard the complaints about long lines and empty tummies but he doesn’t think that merits a switch to split lunches.

“That, to me, is the most detrimental thing,” he said. “We lose more than we gain.”

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