In past years, West Shore Jr./Sr. High School had a lunch period that was referred to as “Power Hour.” The whole student body had about an hour to enjoy lunch, visit teachers for help, complete make-up tests, get homework done and socialize with friends. In efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, this time was divided into three separate lunches for the 2020-2021 school year.
“With COVID-19, there has to be a lot less people hanging out with each other during lunch since you need the distancing and masks off when eating,” freshman Parker Pratt said. “Now we have to have three separate lunches so that there are less people together. Last semester I had all my friends at lunch with me. This semester they’re in a different lunch so I don’t have anyone to sit with.”
West Shore hasn’t had three separate lunches for more than 10 years. Principal Rick Fleming said the lunch change has been painful for most.
“The socialization of having everyone at lunch together is important,” Fleming said. “It’s important for your mental health, it’s important for your social health, and it’s important for [school staff] to have that time with you. Words cannot describe the pain I feel of not having Power Hour any longer. It was a win-win for students and for teachers. Now we’ve had to adjust for the new lunch schedule. It pains me.”
Many seventh graders, like Aradia Derivi, said they were disappointed to hear that they wouldn’t get to experience Power Hour their first year. Derivi said she still tries to enjoy her time at lunch, though.
“Lunch is a nice time to try and meet people,” she said. “The food is good here. A lot better than I expected it to be. It can take a while to get, though, just because of how long the lines can be. I’ve seen them extend outside which is hard when I’m trying to get my usual spot I sit in.”
Derrick Hamilton is a janitor at the school. He said the change to three separate lunches has affected the way he completes his job.
“Having to clean three different lunch times? I don’t even want to clean one so three is just ludicrous.” Hamilton said. “The way it’s scheduled now, there is very little space between first and second lunch. That was a disappointment since we have to be even more thorough with cleaning but yet super quick about it. Power Hour will be welcomed back.”
Freshman Sean McLeod said his time at lunch has become a lot more complicated with less time.
“I can’t wait until next year when the schedule is back to normal,” McLeod said. “Lunch used to be that stage in the day to calm down, catch up on homework and talk with friends. Now I have less time to do whatever and I’m separated from friends. It’s boring. It sucks.”