Administrators announce shift to one-period lunch schedule for upcoming school year


Josie Lane

Over seven years, school staff filed 18 accusations of harassment against Beidleman — the most recent occurring in 2023.

By Ines Foscarini

Whitman’s instructional schedule for the upcoming school year will contain one schoolwide lunch period instead of two separate lunch periods, administrators announced in an email to community members on Tuesday. School officials cited improved staff accessibility and the benefit of a single time for students to interact with their peers as the primary rationale behind the schedule shift.

Before the 2022-2023 school year, students and staff ate lunch during one of two 45-minute lunch periods that took place during fifth and sixth period. Beginning on August 29, students and staff will share a single lunch, and pupils will be able to meet with counselors, teachers and support staff during that time. 

“We believe that a shift to one lunch will have several positive impacts on student academic success and well-being, including a consistent time when all teachers, counselors, and specialists will be available to support students during the school day,” administrators wrote in the message to community members. 

School officials could not be reached for further comment. Whitman’s Leadership Team began evaluating the viability of the adjustment in winter of 2022 and formed a workgroup to collect data, conduct surveys and gather input from students and staff, according to the email.

“I like the idea,” math teacher Michael Stebbins said. “I think it’s such a pain when kids have to make up tests. I used to have to send kids to Mr. Paulson’s room next door because he had fifth period off and I had sixth period off.” 

Most MCPS high schools already adhere to a one-period lunch schedule. At Walter Johnson High School, students eat lunch during a 42-minute period between the school’s fourth and fifth periods. 

Administrators also hope that a single lunch period will allow student-led clubs to hold lunch meetings more easily since all participants will be available at the same time. The change aims to strengthen relationships throughout the school, according to the July 26 email. 

Administrators also wrote that despite substantial support for the decision, school officials will work over the summer to ensure that the change has a positive impact on students. For junior Cata Sposato, the new schedule is a welcome change but may contribute to overcrowding during lunch, she said. 

“Although I’m supportive of the change, I am concerned about the winter,” Sposato said. “Last year, everyone was really crammed in the commons with only half of the school, so I think it’ll be difficult to fit everyone inside.” 

Although the cafeteria and commons will be more packed during lunch, students can still eat in other locations like classrooms, hallways and the library, Stebbins said. The school aims to accommodate a larger group of students and ensure that they are comfortable during lunch, administrators wrote in the community email. 

“I’m extremely excited for a one-period lunch,” junior Maya Galanti said. “I can’t wait to be able to socialize with all of my friends and not have to worry about who I’m going to have to sit with at lunch.”