My old high school was one of the only ones in the area that had an ‘open campus lunch’. Our high school used to be crowded, with around 3,000 kids. Our school wasn’t built for even two-thirds of that, so there was no chance of accommodating that many students at lunch time. As such, there was no choice but to have an ‘open campus’ at lunch.
An open campus allows kids to leave the school during lunch, just so long as they’re back in time for class afterwards. You could go anywhere: out to fast food, back home briefly, walk to a local store, wherever.
After arriving at high school from middle school, the thought of an open campus lunch was probably the coolest thing I had ever thought of. I remember my first lunch at high school, I walked to a local market and bought some food. I felt so grown-up.
With an open campus lunch, the big thing was always having your license and a car, even more so than normal. Once you had both, you had the freedom to go wherever you wanted during lunch. Of course, once everyone else fond out, they would pounce on you like wolves to try to be taken out to lunch.
With so many kids leaving campus though, you can imagine the traffic around the school and the crowds at restaurants. If you didn’t skedaddle to leave campus after 4th period, you had to face enormous lines and risk being late for class.
But if you were lucky enough to be early, there was plenty of time to arrive, eat, and make it back without being late.
Unfortunately, eating out becomes expensive, as well as the gas to get there. By the end of my senior year, I was tired of wasting money and actually ended up staying around on campus a lot more. I was surprised how empty the campus was.
At one point, the school board tried to end open campus. A new high school (one with a closed campus) had been built that, in theory, would have lowered the amount of students enough that we could now accommodate all of us at lunch. The truth was that the parents of the new school complained because their kids couldn’t leave at lunch, so the school board wanted to stop receiving complaints.
But the students fought it like there was no tomorrow. We housed sit-ins at our school to show them how bad of an idea it was. Virtually every teacher and administrator agreed that it was a terrible idea. I spoke with the superintendent personally to tell her what a terrible idea it would be.
The school board held more meetings to ‘reasses’ the idea, and in the end, open campus won.
Having an open campus was a great opportunity as a student to learn how to manage money and time. Even though it was almost closed, students were glad to finally be seen as mature enough to handle themselves during the lunch hour.
Has anyone else ever had an open-campus lunch at high school?