Why Do Only Seniors Get Off-Campus Lunch?



In the fall of 2005, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors came back to Livermore High School to find that their off-campus lunch privilege had been revoked. Why was this taken away from three-quarters of the student body, and will it ever return?

At the time, LHS was on an A and B block semester schedule. This meant that one day you would have periods one, two, three, and four, and the next day periods five, six, seven, and eight for 90 minutes each. This led to kids having more free periods, which were not limited to first or fifth period like now, but any period throughout the day.

Lunch was also 45 minutes until 2008, so if you had a free second period that added up to over two hours for lunch. Today, however, students only get 35 minutes for lunch, which means you don’t have time to walk to a restaurant like Wienerschnitzel on third street, and be back in time for fourth period. Most seniors at LHS have a driver’s license and a car, so they are able to get food and come back in 35 minutes.

Tom Fletcher and Veronica Torres estimated that around one-half of the student body (around 1,000 kids) used to leave for off-campus lunch, which made LHS feel less like a high school, and more like a college campus.

Torres said, “During lunchtime the campus was like a ghost town.” There was less school spirit and no feeling of a community. Keeping kids on campus during the school day created a new sense of community.

Another cause for most of the student body to have their off-campus lunch rescinded was that the administration at LHS did not think they were mature enough to be trusted with this privilege. There were kids who would draw on tables with a sharpie, or throw their trash on the sidewalk. The biggest problem was a fight that broke out at Magoo’s pizza restaurant (now closed), but incidents similar to this were rare.

However, this meant that restaurants downtown got a huge lunch rush, which definitely helped with profits. If a quarter of the kids who would go for off-campus went to Wienerschnitzel, that would be around 200 people.

Fletcher , “From eight to three we could tell parents you [students] are supervised and aren’t doing anything mischievous.” Closing the gates on off-campus lunch was also a good sell to parents, because now they knew exactly where their kids are. Torres, who has a daughter who went to LHS, explained, “I feel safer knowing that my freshmen and sophomores are on campus.”

Looking towards the future, there are no plans to bring back off-campus lunch. When asked if it is possible for off-campus privileges to be returned to the whole student body, Fletcher said, “I wouldn’t say ‘never.’ I just don’t know if there is a justifiable argument.” Torres commented,”I have not heard any plans to bring it back.”

There is always a chance of students starting fights or participating in activities they shouldn’t, because there is no supervision. With that being said, nobody has tried to bring it back for ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders yet, so the possibility has yet to be explored.

Feature Image Credit: Patrick Connolly