By Abby Herbert
Many students have been complaining about the overcrowded B Lunch, yet most are unaware of the trial and error that goes into creating all 1,800 student schedules. From finding a place to sit to getting to their next class on time, students can agree that the congested B Lunch can be overwhelming.
Dr. Weber, a former Manheim Township assistant principal, was responsible for creating this year’s mass schedule and sections. For each course section, a department specialist determines how many sections of each course were needed for schedules this year. According to Mr. Johns, Township’s dean of students, new Assistant Principal Mrs. Lyons will take the current school schedule for this year and examine how she can tweak and improve it for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
Johns stated that there are approximately 550 students in A Lunch, 625 in B Lunch, and 450 in C Lunch. The overwhelming number of students in B Lunch is due in part to the Administration’s insistence that the courses students select fit within their schedules. Johns explained that the process of creating schedules starts in January when different department heads work on which sections fit best with their courses. Then, once students pick their courses, Mrs. Lyons will create all the different sections of classes and place them in Sapphire. After the classes are placed into Sapphire, Mrs. Lyons presses a button that shuffles them together, creating a mass schedule. This schedule is then refined and recalculated until over 95% of student schedules are filled. Once it gets to over 95%, the rest of the schedules are created by hand. After the schedules are set, it is very difficult to move someone from B Lunch to C Lunch without completely changing the schedule, according to Johns.
Johns voiced that once he tells students that they’re going to reduce the cluster in B Lunch and move them to C, they say, “…I don’t wanna leave B Lunch. All of my friends are in B Lunch,”. To try and resolve this problem, Administration managed to move an entire class of about 25 students out of C lunch so that the students in that class would know at least some students at lunch, stated Johns. He also said that they were able to move 10 to 15 other students out of B Lunch at the beginning of the school year.
Another factor that affects how many kids are in each lunch is the Music Department. All students who participate in MTHS Orchestra, Band and Chorus are placed into C Lunch for the reason that they do not want to—or it can be difficult to—perform after eating a meal. Most of the students who are not involved in music are pushed into A and B Lunch, which, according to Johns, is one of the reasons why A and B are the two largest lunches this year.
The two-period science classes that are offered at the High School (such as AP physics) often have students put into B Lunch because it is easier to schedule their labs and class periods during periods 1-3 and 5-6. Mr. Johns stated that “in theory, it could’ve been a 5B class, but then they can’t have a lab right after that.” It’s also easier for teachers to say that their lab is either period 2 or period 7.
With all of this in mind, there are things that Administration is doing to help decrease the amount of clutter in the Cafeteria. The problem in B Lunch is not the number of tables in the cafeteria, but the number of chairs. Many students are taking chairs from other tables around the cafeteria so that they are able to sit with their friends. This leaves many tables without any chairs. Currently, the weather has been nice enough where many students are able to eat outside and avoid the problem of not finding a chair. According to Johns, on a nice day, there are about forty-five to fifty students that eat their lunch outside; the large number of students eating outside has prompted Administration to set up portable tables so that students can eat their lunch on a table, rather than on the ground; however, once the winter months roll around, outdoor seating will be closed off and students will be forced to sit indoors. The issue of chairs will erupt again and, to fix this problem, the Administration has bought more sets of chairs to be added to tables.
Creating the schedules for the school year is a tremendous task, and Mr. Johns “doesn’t discount that it’s frustrating.” The Lunches will never be 100% evenly split, but Mr. Johns said that he and Administration are working very hard to move fifty to seventy students out of B Lunch and into A and C Lunches for next year. As for right now, the Administration is working with students and staff to make B Lunch feel as uncongested as possible.