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Power Up: we need an extended lunch break

Shoot — they forgot your bread. Your online Panera order was the only thing getting you through Ultimate Frisbee in team games. But you don’t have enough time to go back in and demand your coveted gluten because it’s a six minute drive back down Mission to East and there’s only eight minutes left of first lunch. Not to mention some teachers hate it when people eat their lunch during class, so steering while eating your grilled cheese seems like the only option. Twenty-five minutes for lunch is just not cutting it.

The Olathe and Blue Valley school districts have 50 to 60 minutes for lunch. Every. Single. Day. Ranging in names from “Timber Time” to “Power 50,” students have time to eat, meet with teachers and attend club meetings.

It’s time that East follows suit — these districts decide snow days together, so why not lunch, too? SMSD should implement their own hour-long break for the next school year.

Students would have the freedom to choose what they want to during this extended time — there’s the three-sport athlete who has been wanting to go to Chinese Club but hasn’t made it because of tennis practice after school. Think of the freshman who has been meaning to make up the English unit seven test from two months ago, but their ride doesn’t drop them off until 7:30 — definitely not enough time to define 50 vocab words. And don’t forget the chemistry lab partners who gave each other the flu and have to make up their distillation lab.

Teachers would also have additional time to administer tests or catch students up on lessons. Some teachers coach a sport after school and thus aren’t available — and no student (or teacher) wants to chop an hour off their already-too-short night’s sleep to make up a stoichiometry quiz at 7 a.m..

Think of power hour as a recess — it’s an intermission from classes, just without the monkey bars or kickball. Recess in elementary schools is a time for a kid’s brain to mentally decompress and process what it has just learned, according to Contra Costa Health Services. A student’s need for a break doesn’t disappear just because they’re older, especially when they’re trying to cram seven classes worth of information between their eyeballs.

According to a 2012 study by University of Southern California and MIT professionals, when the brain is in its “default mode,” or resting, it continues to work. It consolidates memories, reflects on experiences (or in this case the previous lesson you just learned in calc) and plans.

Without an organized watch on every student’s whereabouts, an hour of free time and students spreading out all over the school to eat lunch and meet up may seem like the perfect time for a student to earn a Friday school. But the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. An hour used wisely would give students enough time to complete their would’ve-been-late Conjuguemos or microwave their leftover mac and cheese without having to scarf it down in seconds. If given the time, students would rather finish their homework in school where they have additional learning resources, so they can still fit in a power nap that night after practice.

Student engagement might actually increase — think of all the students missing SHARE opportunities or Junior Board meetings that are typically after school, but now they could meet during their break. Students scrambling for NHS hours would sacrifice what could be a wasted hour of scrolling through Instagram if it meant getting their hours finished in school.

Implementing our own break system would require adding time to lunch by taking those minutes from other parts of the day. A small portion of that time could come from advisory and seminar — 25 and 50 minutes of Xello careers telling you that you’re meant to be a chimney sweep or martial arts instructor just because you mentioned you sometimes like to be active.

Rather than answering questions in an attempt to get to know your St-Tu advisory and seminar classmates (most likely who have been in the same grade as you for the past six years), this time should go towards a free period with more possibilities. Advisory doesn’t allow students to travel and seminar travel time is heavily dictated by yellow passes that teachers forget to give out half the time.

Blue Valley and Olathe have maintained seminar and advisory on even block days, they’re just five minutes shorter (less Xello time, thank god). Their normal bell schedule hasn’t had to be altered significantly either — their classes are only two minutes shorter, and Blue Valley only adds an additional five minutes to their total school day.

Plus lunch lovers would benefit — this prolonged break would be enough time to drive to Einstein or Caffetteria, order, eat and make it back with time to spare (sans eating while driving). No more eating your #5 order while trying to conjugate future tense Spanish verbs at the same time.

It’s obvious that seniors won’t let anything stop them from leaving for lunch — when the roads were icy and temps low, many still made the trek to their car in the front lot to try and pick up their Goodcents. There were fender benders this winter, just because someone had a hankering for a footlong and because they were rushed — there’s no time to look for black ice when you have to be back in your assigned class in 25 minutes. If we had a full hour, then maybe we’d have more cars intact or students could have gotten a headstart on scraping the ice off of their car.

We shouldn’t be forced to choose between making up a test and musical rehearsals. We shouldn’t have to go 10 over to pick up our Spin order. We should give our brains a break.

Lancer lunch, anyone?

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