Students Frustrated By Forced Lunchtime Moves

by Katie Nolan ‘12

Eating conditions are often crowded and students are often moved from lunch spot to lunch spot. Photo by Paul Szewczyk '12.

Eating conditions are often crowded and students are often moved from lunch spot to lunch spot. Photo by Paul Szewczyk '12.

For students, lunch is a time to relax, finish homework assignments and enjoy quality time with their friends. For administrators and security, it is a frenzied period of trying to maintain order and a clean environment. Finding a medium between these two aspirations is difficult. With large groups of students gathering throughout random hallways, the attempt to keep control is a challenge, and administrators such as Assistant Principal James Heintze on occasion have moved students from their initial eating spots.

“We won’t move [students] to specific hallways; we just assign them to different areas of the building,” Heintze said, “We are just trying to keep certain areas of the school quiet and clean during lunch.”

For example, just outside the Media Center houses many students eating and talking with friends. However, they were recently banned from eating there due to the amount of trash left behind. With various parents, classes and outside MCPS staff regularly visiting the media center, it reflects poorly upon Sherwood to have trash consistently littering the entrance. “Who wants someone screaming outside a place you’re trying to conduct business? We’re not asking a lot, just pick up your trash,” said Security Team Leader Patrick Rooney.

Security often focuses on a particular area, responding to complaints and the trash left in the hallways. “The poor building service workers work so hard,” Rooney added. “It’s not their job to pick up after students and teachers.”

Some students, however, have voiced that they have felt targeted. Recently, a group of sophomores was moved from the foreign language hall to the upper H hall, and one difference they have seen in this new location is an increase in students walking through them. “Over there [the foreign language hall] it was cozy and not many people walked by. Here [the upper H hall], everyone walks through,” sophomore Andrew Wasik said. He said that his group went back to the quiet hallway they preferred. “Every single day we got kicked out, we then went back to the hallway the next day for almost a month.”

Similar to Wasik’s story, a group of juniors have found solace in a new hallway. “We got kicked out every day because of our trash. We tried merging with another group but it got too crowded, so finally we moved hallways completely,” junior Gabby Simala said.

Other groups of students have been questioning the motive behind moving students. “It makes it seem like the spot we are sitting in is why we are littering” junior Michael Vires said. Vires and his friends were moved consistently throughout last year before finally relocating, though they note they are still checked on by security at lunch.

Those who must play host to a new group of students are not usually thrilled with their new guests. “During my freshman year, a group was forced out of their lunch spot, only to move into the hall where my friends and I sat,” junior Sara Grantham said. “I hated having another group there; that group was much bigger than mine, was rowdier, and made eating in my own spot harder. Being forced to share a lunch spot, not even by my own faults, was unfair and annoying.”

With so many students crowding the halls at lunch, it is possible that there simply is not enough room. Junior Juliana McClurkin, one of the students who spent her lunch in front of the media center, believes that moving students is an ongoing battle with no winner. “If we got moved because it was too messy, then the other spot would be too messy as well, and it gets kids more mad so they leave more trash behind.”

Security member Jeff Pettenati acknowledges that moving students does not always work. “Sometimes it’s effective, sometimes the one who cause the problem are just going to start it somewhere else. However, I think they get a little tired of us so they start listening.”