For most students, being allowed to leave campus during a snack or lunch period is the pinnacle of freedom.
But at Hoover High School, no such open-campus lunch exists. So, with Principal Kevin Walsh in attendance, students in teacher Dan Kimber’s Debate Club gathered last week to plead their case for an open-campus lunch.
The meeting mostly revolved around two points. First, student freedom. Most students felt they deserved and were mature enough to handle a half-hour of freedom off campus.
Second, most students felt that being allowed to exit the campus during lunch would provide them with a more elaborate lunch menu compared with their school’s cafeteria.
But when asked to narrow down their argument to a single point, some students felt that general freedom from school was worth more than being able to eat other types of food.
“Yeah, food is an issue, but at the same it’s also about the freedom,” said club member Adrian Apana, 17. “I mean, just the freedom of being able to go out, doing what you want to do, being in a different environment than you are [in] for seven hours every day.”
For Taniel Akay, 17, being outside the school’s walls would give him the opportunity to go home for a half-hour, he said.
But that could mean a whole set of other headaches for school administrators, Walsh said.
“I worry about things that could happen off campus,” Walsh said. “I’ll always worry about that; that’s the dad in me. On campus, that’s not going to happen because they’re here.”
But the open-campus lunch privilege, Taniel argued, could be extended only to students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Besides, he said, the school’s lack of an open-campus lunch seemed to stem from liability issues.
“It’s not so much that the school is worried about what’s going to happen to their students, it’s about the school worrying about would happen to them if something happens to their students,” Taniel said. “It’s not the school’s fault, and it’s ultimately the individual student’s.”
He recommended a liability waiver that would exempt the school from any legal responsibility should an incident occur. But Walsh said an open-lunch campus would incite tardiness, which the school experienced years ago when it had an open-lunch campus, and even the “good kids” were tardy.
“I am still concerned that the kids are off campus, at lunch, rushing back,” he said. “I am concerned that things could happen off campus that wouldn’t happen here.”
Gohar Nazaryan, 16, agreed with Taniel, adding that having an open-lunch campus would make her classmates feel more like adults ready for college. Those students, she argued, care more about their academics and are more responsible, therefore, “they’ll care more about the trust they have with teachers.”
She also recommended that students sign a contract that could be voided if the student got into trouble during lunch outside of campus.
“I will be principal here up until about sometime on June 30, and this will still remain a closed campus,” said Walsh, who announced his retirement late last year. “I am happy to listen to all of those good arguments with the kids.”
Kids Talk Back
The Glendale-News press visited the after-school debate club of Hoover High School instructor Dan Kimber. At this meeting, and with Hoover High Principal Kevin Welsh present, the students debated the pros and cons of having an open-campus lunch, which would allow them to leave campus during lunchtime. We asked: “What is your compelling argument for convincing your principal to let you leave campus during lunch?”
“I’m sure if the school could close down for 30 minutes, let’s say, people would enjoy that more — even the administrators would enjoy that more, because they get free time as well.”
ADRIAN APANA, 17
“When I have the choice to go home for 30 minutes, that’s what I would do. It’s nice to have a break in between four hours of class, even if it’s just to drive around a few blocks and get some fresh air. It’s nice to be outside the gates.”
TANIEL AKAY, 17
“As a young adult, I think we seek to attain freedom in any form we can possibly get it. I think an open campus seems attractive because it’s a way in which to attain freedom.”
EMIL MINAS, 17
“It’s about us searching for freedom. Right now, our parents have all these rules on us. We always have curfews, [at] school we have to here until 3. We’re kind of, like, trapped . . . we’re kind of like searching to get out.”
GOHAR NAZARYAN, 16