photo (3)It is CPS policy that “no food may be removed from the lunchroom.” This is mostly due to health and sanitation concerns, keeping the atrium clean and tidy.

Above the doors in the cafeteria reads a sign: “maximum occupancy 210 persons.” There are 205 students in 2a lunch, 205 in 3a, 160 in 6b, and a shocking 249 students in 7b, according to Mr. Adamji.

No one wants to cram into a small lunchroom and eat, and not being allowed to bring food or drinks in the library, or sitting quietly against the lockers to have your lunch makes me think that the only answer to this embarrassing dilemma of safety and allowing students to eat, is off-campus lunch for not only seniors but juniors too.

Perhaps Payton’s strict rules of senior only off-campus lunch is because of the small size of the student body, but we must remember how Rahm Emanuel is giving an already awesome school more money to expand. If we are accepting between 300-400 new students, we either need a bigger lunchroom or Payton needs to reevaluate its off-campus lunch guidelines.

Since Walter Payton’s establishment in 2000, seniors have been the only students allowed off-campus lunch. Payton is an extremely competitive school, educating some of the smartest young adults in the state.

There is a natural competitive edge found in its students which causes them to work hard in order to achieve good grades, but also brings about a lot of stress.

Additionally, juniors have the ACT and SAT to worry about. Off campus lunch for juniors and seniors would give them a 45 minute break outside of school in the fresh air to clear their minds and ease their worries. This may reduce the stress that upperclassmen feel, thus allowing them to think more clearly and improve their academic performance.

Unlike other selective enrollment schools in Chicago, Payton is the only one with such strict rules for off-campus lunch. Not including the 7th and 8th graders in Whitney Young’s honors program, all of their students are allowed off-campus lunch. Lane Tech also offers off-campus lunch starting sophomore year.

Students have attempted to change these rules many times by creating petitions, writing articles, and talking to administration. However, the school seems adamant about not changing its current off-campus lunch year requirement.

They should take into consideration the number of students in each period, and their rules of only allowing 210 students to eat in the lunchroom at a time.

Additionally, if Payton is adding about 300-400 students with its new extension, the school needs to assess its current cafeteria and eating situation.

If administration is concerned about juniors taking advantage of an off-campus lunch privilege, they may consider making a minimum GPA requirement of 3.5 in order for a student to keep said privilege.

By granting juniors the right to leave school for lunch, we may be able to demonstrate the power of a more together and stress-free student body, and develop a stronger sense of responsibility.

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