Students at and high schools could be required to take a scheduled lunch period if a proposed policy change in Niles Township High School District 219 moves forward.
The proposal would mean that students could take a maximum of eight scheduled classes at a time, plus lunch.
A few weeks ago, throughout the North Shore were skipping lunch so they can take more classes. Earlier this spring, the principals of Niles North and Niles West reported that more than 300 students don’t have a scheduled lunch period, at least not every day. Most simply want to take more classes, although some arrange their schedules to arrive late or leave early.
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However, teaching kids to eat well is just as important as academics, and will help them do better in school as well, said board member Sheri Doniger.
“We want to create healthy kids,” she said. “Malnourished kids can’t learn.”
Can't force them to eat
District 219 Superintendent Nanciann Gatta acknowledges that not all students will eat if they have a lunch period - although most students who don’t have a scheduled lunch now have found ways to eat during the school day, either during homeroom or in the class of an understanding teacher.
“They can use that time to go to labs or go to the literacy center. We want them to eat, but we can’t make them eat,” she said.
School board president Robert Silverman put the administration and board on notice that he has concerns about the policy.
“What concerns me is the lack of an exception,” he said. “You’re making a new graduation requirement: every student must have four years of lunch.”
That’s not exactly true, board member Ruth Klint pointed out. Students who graduate early would only have to have a scheduled lunch for the semesters they are in school.
But Klint, who chairs the policy committee, didn’t back down on the lack of an exception for students who want more classes.
“It’s a philosophical statement,” she said.
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