- The Sword & Shield
Lunch in the Brook
By LILLY LEJEUNE, Co-Editor-in-Chief
A long-standing tradition of not having a scheduled lunch period is a cornerstone of Mountain Brook High School’s culture and identity as a community. Though it may seem normal to Mountain Brook students, students at other schools gawk over the absence of a lunch period. Believe it or not, Mountain Brook was founded without a lunch period.
“It is very unusual for a school to not have a planned lunch, but it's also very unusual for a student body to be able to handle the responsibility of a free period,” Vice Principal Carrie Busby said.
Having a lunch period would limit students’ choice of classes and activities. For students who schedule classes from zero to 8th period, a lunch period would reduce their ability to explore their interests and stretch outside of their comfort zone. Students might have to skip out on many fun, exciting classes, like arts and academic electives, if they had a scheduled lunch.
It also allows students to eat when it’s best for them. Students can eat earlier or later in the day. They can opt for a quick meal or sit-down lunch during their free period.
Despite all its benefits, not having a lunch period also has its downsides. Some students struggle to schedule time to eat especially during their sophomore year. Scheduling classes from zero to 8th period can stretch students beyond their ability and not having a lunch period can further impact mental and physical health. By reducing students’ time to eat, they often skip lunch which is detrimental to their health.
“You want to give students the opportunity to take as many classes as they want and the courses that they want, but you also don’t want to contribute to setting them up for a schedule they can’t handle, whether academic or health-related,” Busby said.
Students need to learn effective communication to decide when and where they can eat during the day. Many students also use a free period to eat lunch.
“We’ll work with a student in designing where that free period sits. … We’re going to find a way for a student to eat lunch,” Busby said.
In a normal year, most students can easily find time during the day to eat, but with COVID-19 restrictions, many students struggled at the beginning of the year to sort out their eating schedule during the transition from junior high to high school. Teachers and the administration have worked hard to ensure students have time and space to eat, six feet apart.
“It’s taken some conversations. It’s taken some change, but we have worked around it,” Busby said.
For Mountain Brook students, the flexibility of having an extra period outweighs any downsides. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests and develop necessary skills for college.
“It prepares them for that next step of college where you have freedom with your schedule and what your day looks like,” Principal Philip Holley said.