Dear D200 board members,
I blame myself. I should have attended those meetings last spring about closing the campus. I've had a student at OPRF for the last seven years, so the concept seemed absurd to me. We are a landlocked school — not a suburban, college-type campus like Barrington or New Trier. Surely our space constraints alone would preclude closing OPRF.
The high school is a pressure cooker, and the lunch time release from that small space is necessary. But the current situation is made even more dire due to the extremely poor execution of a misguided plan. Dr. Millard said kids would have ample space and be allowed to "eat in the halls" and the Student Center. Instead, we have the trifecta of closing the campus, restricting food to the cafeteria, and instituting a "duty free" lunch policy for our teachers.
Most parents don't know that kids may only eat in the cafeteria, that lines are long for buying food or exiting the building, and that students are required to spend (aka waste) 10 minutes in the cafeteria before going to the library or any other place they have a pass for.
These new lunch policies have combined to form an assault on the arts at OPRF. In the past, 100+ students in each lunch period used their time to rehearse in the band room; sing in "Brown Bag" vocal ensembles; work on set construction in Stage Crew; publish the Trapeze and Tabula; or continue projects in ceramics, jewelry making and studio arts. None of this is taking place now because kids are not allowed to eat in these spaces. Or in the case of Brown Bags, teachers are no longer allowed to be paid for sponsoring extra-curricular programming held during school hours.
I'm guessing there are other examples beyond the arts where the closed campus and food rules are adversely impacting kids. Initially, students weren't permitted to eat outside on the school mall. They still cannot eat in the Student Center! Incidentally, how has our closed campus impacted our struggling businesses on Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue?
Who came up with this stuff? Does the administration really lack the larger perspective to realize that all of this is too much altogether? This is a race to the bottom with the only standard being that the fire marshal OKed such large numbers in the cafeterias. What about the academic enrichment that used to take place over the lunch hour? Why aren't we encouraging our teachers to sponsor more special events at lunch — now that they have a captive audience?
The current lunch situation at OPRF is not only inconvenient, it is detrimental. The students feel like caged animals now. How do you think they will feel in February? What discipline issues will erupt then?
So when is the well publicized meeting asking parents to voice their opinion on the implementation of the new lunch policy? I will be sure to attend.