Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes
New schedule and new lunch service for next year bring changes students asked for and some they didn't.
March 21, 2018
Times are Changing
New daily schedule moves early release back and activity period forward in order to improve learning.
The bell rings. It’s 12:30 p.m. and Seniors flood out of the school doors. Early release beckons them home, to work or to lunch with friends. Next year, 1:40 p.m. will be the new 12:30 p.m. as a new daily schedule changes the Upper School routine.
Administration adopted the new schedule, set to take effect with the 2018-19 school year, with the goal of improving learning and increasing Senior influence on the Upper School as a whole. The current schedule has essentially four and a half hours of learning, one long hour and 20-minute break, and then another hour and a half of learning. The new schedule allows for intentional breaks between each class.
Studies have shown that this not only improves learning, but also allows students to have time to process new information.
Upper School Principal Mrs. Wendy Morris and other administrators are excited for the new schedule to begin. She said, “We believe that the new schedule will benefit the students by improving the learning environment as a whole.”
The new plan has three major benefits:
- It will increase participation in activity period programs.
- It will allow Seniors to positively influence the culture.
- It will allow greater brain breaks between each class.
Though there are many positive aspects of this schedule change, the Junior class had reservations. Many have spent all of high school looking forward to a 12:30 p.m. early release time. They were also excited about the possibility of having off-campus lunches and being able to start work shifts at an earlier time to maximize their day. Junior Miranda Reeves said, “I was going to intern at a vet, but now I can’t start until 3 p.m. instead of 1 p.m., so it throws off my plans.”
Junior Ashton Lott said, “I worked at Ella Bleu Sophomore year and decided it was too hard to balance Junior year and working most days. I promised my boss I would come back this summer and work Senior year, but now I can’t because I would miss the shift she needed me for.”
Change can be difficult, but Mrs. Morris stressed the many benefits of the new schedule. She said, “Having activity period separated from lunch makes this time more intentional. The purpose of activity period is for students to have the opportunity to attend tutoring and club meetings, and for some to be involved in extra courses such as FPS and LSP.”
This schedule change will increase the number of students on campus and thus increase the proportion participating in clubs and investing time in extra courses. Additionally, the new positioning of activity period will allow students to receive tutoring earlier in the day. That way, they can get work done before they go home, making the schedule more proactive.
“The new schedule allows for Seniors to be present during the activity period while also having their early release. It is important that the Seniors have a presence on campus in a leadership role while at the same time we want to offer them the Senior privilege of early release. This schedule allows for both to take place,” said Mrs. Morris.
The compromise will still allow Seniors to have the early release privilege, while also preventing the culture shift that happened when those Seniors, the leaders of the school, were absent during half of the school day.
Calculus teacher Mrs. Lori Nappier, who was at the school for years, left for a time and just returned this fall. She has a special perspective on the culture here and strongly supports the change.
Mrs. Nappier said, “I think one of the greatest benefits that will come from the new schedule is how it will gradually change the culture into one of, ‘this is MY school.’ As Seniors invest more in the school, they will begin to ‘own’ it. PCA will become a part of who they are, and as they give back, they will become a part of PCA. Negative comments directed toward PCA will become personal. When I see bitterness in someone’s eyes and hear a derogatory comment like ‘PCA is so …’ what I hear is ‘Mrs. Nappier is so . . .’ Why? Because this is MY school. I am investing myself here; my time, my energy, my heart. You attack PCA, you are attacking me.”
Mrs. Nappier continued, “I know it won’t happen overnight, but I KNOW the more time the Seniors spend here, the more they will invest in the life of PCA, invest their time, their energy, their heart. They will take ownership of the school, and it will be contagious to the underclassmen . . . and YES, it will change the culture of this school.”
This new schedule change may be just the thing the school needs to better foster a positive, Jesus-centered mindset.
Administration also made this new schedule change to help students learn in a more conducive environment and provide students more breaks throughout the day.
University of Illinois Psychology professor Dr. Alejandro Lleras studied the impact of taking breaks on student performance. “Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness,” Dr. Lleras said.
“From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task,” said Dr. Lleras.
Mrs. Morris said, “The schedule provides brain breaks between 90-minute block classes. After each class, there is a 10-minute or more break before the next class. First period, activity period, second period, lunch, third period, 10-minute break, fourth period.”
Though Juniors looked forward to the extra hour off of school, the potential change of culture that could occur would be worth it. The learning processes and relationships between Seniors and younger classmates should prove more important than the negatives of an extra hour in the school day.
All You Can Eat Every Day
SAGE Dining brings choice, tasty food and no wait to school lunches beginning next fall.
Lunch is one the most important meals of the day, and no one wants to miss it. Whether it’s talking and laughing with friends around the lunch table or taking care of those hunger pangs, lunch is a time to take a break from the busy day and relax for a few minutes.
Beginning in the fall, students will also be able to try new things, choose from many options and eat all they want when the school introduces the new SAGE lunch program.
“The program will be ‘campus inclusive,’ which means all students participate with a one-time fee up front. This means no need for lunch accounts or check-out lines,” said Assistant Head of School-Business and Operations Mr. John Klingstedt.
The program provides improved choices of food to the school’s lunch time. SAGE’s main goal is to educate students how to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet while also enjoying the vast options of foods that will be provided. Being able to taste different types of foods will allow individuals to test what they like and what they don’t like.
The whole idea of changing the way the school does lunches began based on student and parent feedback. Over the past three years, the school had received complaints about the food quality and pricing of the food available.
A task force was formed 18-months ago to investigate concerns with the existing lunch program in terms of nutrition, food selection and availability, and service time. Mr. Klingstedt said, “We found ourselves faced with declining quality and increased prices from our current provider, so we began to study other schools.”
Some of the major issues were the limited selection, items running out before all the students could go through the line and the logistics of the check-out lines that caused delays.
Most private schools in the area operate in a similar way to the new program, and the task force found SAGE Dining at schools around the area and liked what they saw. “They operate very similar to a dining program at the university level…having a registered dietitian, local management and on-site chefs provided by SAGE Dining. That was part of what drew us to this new service,” said Mr. Klingstedt.
Students are the ones who will be eating the food every day, and in order to achieve happy and quality lunch times, the food has to be enticing.
Junior Ashton Lott toured the SAGE lunch programs at other schools to give fellow students a perspective on what to expect. Ashton said, “I went in with very low expectations. I had heard some iffy things about it, but it ended up being very, very good, like restaurant quality.”
The company itself, SAGE Dining, currently operates in many local private schools in the area including Trinity Christian, Greenhill, Parish Episcopal, Episcopal School of Dallas, Legacy Christian and many others.
Lower School Assistant Principal Mrs. Jan Jeffcoat toured Greenhill and Episcopal School of Dallas on behalf of the Lower School. Lower School students will choose from a variety of dishes with the help of their teachers and SAGE aides. Mrs. Jeffcoat said, “One way that the SAGE program will help is by educating students on how to ‘eat the rainbow,’ which means eating foods of all different colors in order to teach them which foods they should have more of, which ones in moderation and which ones on a limited basis.”
Mrs. Paige Mayhew, mother of three sons, one in Seventh grade, one in Eighth and one a Sophomore, was asked to attend the trip to view other SAGE programs. As a parent, she was able to gather a different perspective from a student or faculty member.
Mrs. Mayhew had three favorite things about this program. “First, I actually went in with an intentional mindset of a picky eater. I am so thankful to honestly say that there were plenty of great options that a kid would enjoy. Second, I also have a student with multiple allergies and was relieved to see hot entrees and other options. Third, my boys won’t have to experience a crazy mom trying to get lunches made quickly every morning,” said Mrs. Mayhew.
Students that currently buy their lunches will save money on an annual basis. “It will be like a college dining hall. The fee for Upper School students will average out to a cost of just over $5 per day for all-you-can-eat food with no check-out lines,” said Mr. Klingstedt. With no need for checkout lines, lunch will go faster and more smoothly with more time spent at the table with friends rather than standing in line.
With the new break for lunch being after second and sixth period, Seniors will be routinely eating on campus. However, there will be off-campus lunch available for them every Wednesday.
Students also will not be limited from bringing outside lunches into the cafeteria, but the new food options offer a more nutritious and balanced diet than was previously available.
“With the multiple entrées, sandwich counters, soup/salad bars, etc., we think there will always be something students will like,” said Mr. Klingstedt. Whether looking for something healthy or something sweet, the variety will always be there with no wait and it will never run out.