FHSD Considers Implementing Power Lunches in Upcoming School Year


Credit to Pavan Kolluru

Junior Justin Baniak pays for his lunch after getting his food. The lunchroom has a variety of choices for lunch from nachos to ramen daily. Groups of teachers and students went on trips to research power lunches first hand to figure out how to apply them to FHN. (Photos by Pavan Kolluru)

By Macy Cronin, North Star Reporter

Power lunches have been a point of discussion in recent weeks. It is still up in the air if the three FHSD high schools are implementing this new lunch system for the 2020-21 school year.

“The fun thing about this is that we have worked through this process of figuring this out very publicly,” FHN Principal Nathan Hostetler said. “A lot of what we worked through people have gotten to see the process of ironing out the wrinkles.”

Power lunch is a new initiative to have students have more time to eat and be able to get the help they need while in school by moving the now 25-minute lunch to a 50-minute lunch time. This could allow students to take a break in school in hopes that their stress levels will go down.

“When I look around my cafeteria, one of the things I look for is to see where kids are sitting and who they are sitting with and I see over time people self segregating less and less and see people more comfortable with one another,” Hostetler said. “So what I anticipate is with even more freedom and more flexibility, with limits, people will really be able to lean into that freedom and opportunity to find a place where they belong.”

The lunch could be split into two parts. Students would still have the whole time to eat, but teachers also have to take this time to have their lunch. The lunch would be split in half and teachers will be scheduled to eat during the first half of the period or the second half. This allows them time to eat their lunch, but also time for students to get the help they need from those teachers. Olathe High School in Kansas was observed in February to see how power lunches would work. The school has the power lunch initiative in place.

“For me, since I’m in a lot of advanced classes, it’s such a good time for me to get a lot of my work done,” Olathe junior Jessica Wambu said.

In order for this to go into effect for the next school there are certain steps that the schools must go through. With all these new changes, the schedule must be adjusted due to the increase in lunch time. As of now, the mock schedule for next year will have classes changed to 48-minutes long with fourth hour possibly being 50-minutes. Those two extra minutes would be used for announcements, so that the announcements don’t interrupt any specific hours work time. Power lunch would be between hours four and five.

For early release Wednesdays, the classes would be shortened even further, but the exact time is currently unknown. Knight Time will also be changed. Gold Days would be cut because hopefully the new elongated lunch will allow students to have the time they need to make up tests, visit with friends and get the classwork they need to get done. Only on full Wednesdays would Black Days be present and during that time mentors can lead lessons or any other lessons FHN needs to lead that day.

FHSD administrators and teachers have been visiting other high schools with a similar amount of students in the same urban area FHN is located. These schools all have the power lunch initiative in place and it works for their schools and the students are happy with the system.

However, the district is concerned that the students will all go to lunch at the beginning of the hour instead of staggering. This may have students still having the same amount of time to eat as the 25-minute lunch. Another concern is that, with all the scheduling conflicts and all the new contracts that would have to be put into place, it would end up failing.

“I would estimate that 85% of our disciplinary referrals are regarding non-structured time,” Hostetler said. “When students are in class every now and then they do something goofy or something happens, but by enlargement supervised students do what they need to do. When they have unsupervised or unstructured time, dumb things take place. It’s in the cards.”