One Lunch coming soon to a PAHS near you

Fin Worrall

As the school year progresses, clubs start, football games are held, and report cards are published, questions about the One Lunch timeline have continued to surface. For 10 weeks, Princess Anne has operated with three, thirty-minute lunch periods, an objectively effective system. However, much of the student and teacher body is anticipating the return of One Lunch, one that will have its positives, and one that will have its negatives.

Princess Anne Principal Todd Tarkenton does have a date in mind for this switch, anticipating that PA could be back on the One Lunch schedule and “full speed ahead, definitely second term, if not second quarter.” This date, although tentative, is a step forward in the return of One Lunch, one that could mark its arrival in full effect within three-four months.

Tarkenton cited the major social, emotional, and academic benefits, how it allows for clubs to meet and for teachers to tutor as to why he is a large advocate for One Lunch. However, he prioritizes the safety of students and staff over everything else. He says that while there will not be an excessive number of restrictions, access to certain stairwells will be limited, quiet hallways for each day of the week will be established, and particular portions will be off-limits to provide a structured schedule. Furthermore, he said that during One Lunch, it will be essential to “ensure that our students know how to handle themselves in a less confined environment,” and wanted students to respect the rules and not “abuse the time.” 

The last school year a One Lunch was held on a regular basis was in 2019-2020, which means only current seniors have experienced a One Lunch. Many senior students have remarked praise for the schedule, expressing that it not only permitted them to get caught up on schoolwork, but allowed them to decompress and unwind. A senior echoed that sentiment, “I would sit in Coach Rhue’s room, eat lunch quickly, and go to the gym to play with some friends,” and that he hoped it would return.

While senior Katelyn Palmer agrees, and similarly wishes for its return, she voices a different side of the story. “You only had a 50-minute period to serve everyone in the school lunch,” said Palmer, “I had one friend that got lunch every day and she was in line for 30 minutes.”

PA had a taste of this problem when due to a PSAT-adjusted schedule, the entire school began lunch just after 11:30. The cafeteria was clogged and overwhelmed, a product of the unconventional schedule. “I think with only the seniors knowing about One Lunch, everyone else, three grade levels, had no idea what was going on,” Palmer commented.

The chaos showed that the first days and weeks of One Lunch will be chaotic, something that is unavoidable for such a large change in schedule. Yet, the administration and much of the student and teacher body at PA continue to support the adjustment, under the conviction that it will be a beneficial one. Whether a positive or negative change, One Lunch appears to be, at the moment, an imminent shift for PAHS.