By Alexa Bleth
Since 2014, freshmen at Novato High have not been allowed to go off campus for lunch. The administration enacted this policy for the safekeeping of freshmen and the best way was by requiring them to remain on campus where they are supervised.
Freshmen can't walk anywhere nearby to get lunch, not even Jesus Pizza, served on Wednesdays right down the street from the school. Freshmen need to feel connected with the rest of the school and leaving school to go off campus is one way that can happen. They should be allowed to leave campus for the 35-minute lunch period.
If freshmen had the opportunity to leave campus during lunch, they would have better relationships with other classes and further enhance their high school experience.
“As a freshman I do not agree with the policy of us not being allowed to leave school grounds at lunch. It limits our social interaction and our ability to make connections with everyone outside of our class,” said Samantha Rapp, a freshman at Novato High.
This policy was created right before the arrival of the current Novato High principal, Matt Baldwin. Therefore, seniors that will graduate in 2017 were allowed off campus for lunch during their first year of high school. They were allowed to leave campus when they were freshmen because the cafeteria was being redone. When and if they went out to lunch, many of them would catch rides with friends and head to local restaurants for food.
“Freshmen should be allowed off campus, if anything they are the ones coming back to school the fastest because they don't want to make a bad impression their first year,” said senior Mckenzie Mock. “Most seniors don't care if they are late.”
Freshmen on campus can't do a whole lot. They can sit in an isolated area around school or continuously walking around campus again and again until the lunch bell rings.
One reason the administration does not allow freshmen to leave campus is that a large amount of funding comes from freshmen and other classes eating at the cafeteria. Part of the school’s economy is based around the food that freshmen eat during lunch and the occasional snack at break.
“I don’t think that we could ever have a closed campus,” Baldwin said. “First of all, it would make a lot of people upset, and I don't think we could feed everybody in the amount of time and the capacity of making the food that quick.”
Baldwin said that if they allowed all classes off campus lunch, less income would come in from the cafeteria. He also said that freshman are definitely responsible enough to go off campus, but if all classes were allowed to leave, there would not be enough money coming in from the cafeteria.
“It would have a huge economic impact on our district and our food services because they are obviously counting on people being here and eating their lunches, and if the freshman left then who is here to eat their lunches? I don't think it would ever be changed because the district needs that revenue,” said Baldwin.
If freshmen did have the option of having off-campus lunch, they would spend time with friends in a sociable place.
“Just by the freedom of going off campus being available to me, it would greatly improve my view of the lunchtime environment during school hours,” Rapp said.
As for transportation, freshmen would either have an older buddy or an older sibling that would be willing to take them elsewhere.
Freshmen certainly are capable of leaving campus and coming back before the bell. But, it’s more than that. Freshmen do mature at different stages and there are plenty of freshmen who have the maturity of leaving campus and returning before the bell.
Other than that, freshmen need a responsible component during their first year of high school and this is a good start for them to prove their maturity.