The Duluth School Board was supposed to vote this week on whether Duluth high schools should have an open or closed lunch period.  They ended up deciding to wait on this topic until next month at least.  Open lunch would allow students to leave the campus during lunch periods to get food, stop home, etc.  Having graduated from Duluth Central High School, who did have open lunch, my mind is made up on this topic.

According to the Duluth News Tribune the schools’ principals last week asked the board to keep the campuses open. District administration recommended closure Tuesday. Deputy Police Chief Mike Tusken, who spoke during the public comment period, said the police department hopes the campuses close. He cited the country’s history of school shootings, the city’s own history of juvenile crime statistics and how much contact police have with high school students during lunchtime and other times of the day when they should be in class.

Sounds like a lot of speculation being passed off as fact for those opposed.  They say if you open the campus there could be shootings, injuries, crimes, etc.  I think that if someone is hell-bent on destructive behavior, they will find a way, regardless of lunch policies.  Giving the students the option of an open lunch isn't necessarily going open the floodgates of delinquency.

When I had open lunch at Central, it was great and a good chance for some independence.  My mom did her job, advising me on how to behave and making sure I was being responsible.  If you had a car, or knew someone who did, you could get lunch on Central Entrance.  I lived 5 minutes from school so I would go home to eat sometimes too.  Even with open lunch there were many times I stayed at school anyway, as did a majority of kids.  I don't recall one instance where somebody was hurt, destroyed property, or went on a crime spree during the brief lunch period.  We did all that stuff after school or on field trips (kidding...sort of).

The bottom line is having an open lunch saves money for the schools and allows kids to have a little independence, something most students won't take advantage of.  It takes strong parenting and good teaching to make sure kids know boundaries, behave well, are safe, and get back on time.  However, that's what good parents and teachers do: they teach kids how to become responsible adults.

Every school has their problem students, drama, and tensions.  Forcing all the students to spend even more time together over lunch may actually make things worse.  I say give them open lunch and see how it goes. It's been done before, as I and others can attest.  If the city and schools are turned upside down, revisit the issue for the next school year.

Lastly, and this is for the students: If they still have study halls, try to get yours right before lunch with a teacher who knows you are top notch, meaning they will let you leave whenever you want.  My senior year this worked to perfection, allowing me leave school for almost two hours at a time.  Yet, I never committed a crime, I got good grades, I participated in extracurricular activities, and I even received a college scholarship to boot.

If they don't have study halls, let's bring it up with the Duluth School Board.

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