By: Melissa Rau, Staff Writer
For years, James River High School has enjoyed the privilege of O.N.E. lunch, a period of the day for students to eat their meals with their peers, seek academic strengthening, or participate in clubs and Capstones. Recently, however, students’ behavior saw its consequences.
Beginning on Monday, February 9th, students adapted to a new schedule, dividing the lunch, by class, into three different time slots. Many believed that this was the result of a dispute between two students that happened the week prior, but school principal Mr. Ellick tells that it was much more than that.
“It’s not about any one situation or one event, that’s gonna happen in any school, during any period of time,” Ellick said. “O.N.E. lunch is about the essence of responsibility.”
Students neglected to uphold this responsibility. After dismissing reminders, many continued to leave trash out, speak loudly, and forget to be polite.
“What you do, in the spirit of goodness and good manners, you eat, then you try to clean up and leave it better than you found it,” Ellick said. “But have we consistently done that? No. Can we do it? Yes.”
When asked what the principal hoped to accomplish in the suspension of O.N.E. lunch, he said it revolved around just that: manners.
“It’s not what I am trying to accomplish, it’s what we are trying to accomplish as a school,” Ellick said. “And when I say we, I mean every student, I mean every teacher, every staff member, every administrator- we are trying to make certain we understand what good manners are, what they look like, what respect is, what being kind is. That’s all it is.”
O.N.E. lunch is not a right, it is a privilege. But James River seemed to have reached a point where students lost the appreciation of that privilege- and such a unique one at that.
“We have it because we are James River,” Ellick said. “We said we can discard our trash. We said we could have good manners. We said, unlike most schools in this county, that you can listen to your music.”
Mr. Ellick “wouldn’t say that [he] like[s] O.N.E. lunch, [he] love[s] O.N.E. lunch. And [he] really do[es] mean that with authentic sincerity.” But why does he love it so much?
“O.N.E. lunch offers so many different opportunities to our students whether it’s to receive additional academic support during that 40 minute period, to participate in a club, or to facilitate one of the many, many service learning projects that we have, Capstones, for students to just take a pause in the rigor of the regular academic day, and to have that time available with their peers and their friends,” Ellick said. “Just for the sake of taking a step back while enjoying lunch goes a long ways to making every day positive and productive for our students. And for me, that’s a good thing for students, so it’s a good thing for our school because the students are the essence of the school house.”
Effective on Monday, February 23, James River students once again were able to enjoy the opportunities that the Opportunities Never Ending lunch provides. Hopefully, the suspension of O.N.E. lunch aided students in their understanding of the privilege that it truly is, and motivated them to regard it in that way.
After all, “we are one school, we are James River, and we can do better.”