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Student hostility increases

A student's lunch tray sits on a table after third lunch.

A student's lunch tray sits on a table after third lunch.

Sam Heie

Sam Heie

A student's lunch tray sits on a table after third lunch.


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Trash cans overflow and tables clutter with abandoned trays as all 1,600 students pour in and out of the cafeteria for their lunch shifts. Messiness tends to be a given for a high school cafeteria, but principal Cynthia Prieto believes the problem is worse than the norm.

“The issue has become so big this year because of volume. We have so many people in this building and I think the freshman class needs to transition and get with our message. It isn’t only the freshman class, but they’re the younger ones. It’s the responsibility of the older ones to teach them how to be a Blue Streak,” Prieto said.

The issue became especially prevalent after a series of powdered sugar messes in the boys’ bathrooms across from the library that took janitors two hours to clean. Prieto said that this bathroom gets hit the worst.

The issue also involves trays being chronically left on tables and spilling throughout the cafeteria.

“We do have students that when you ask them to pick up their tray, they’ll say ‘It’s not mine,’ and walk away. We also have students that when you ask them to pick up their tray, they’ll say ‘Yes ma’am,’ and pick up four or five trays… I think it’s a choice,” Prieto said.

This year, there was an addition of an extra lunch shift to counteract the increase in population to make a total of four lunches. As the lunch shifts progress from beginning to end, Prieto believes the cafeteria gets continuously grubbier.

“It’s demoralizing for third and fourth lunch who come in and it’s all gross. That’s not okay,” Prieto said.

An increase in cafeteria messiness has also been grouped with what Prieto perceives as an increase in student cussing. Teachers are asked to walk around the halls for the first 20 minutes of their planning block which has lead to more confrontation.

“If a teacher sees a student without a pass, they are supposed to ask, ‘Where are you supposed to be?’ So when you don’t know that student and they say, ‘Screw you,’ how is that teacher supposed to respond?” Prieto said.

This breed of hostility has rubbed off into the classrooms as well.

“[It has caused] frustration and exhaustion from the faculty. They shouldn’t be spending their time correcting student behavior, they should be spending it teaching, but they can’t. People who work in this building are so passionate and so committed to students. They shouldn’t have to fight all day where they could be just giving you good educational experience,” Prieto said.

The nine full-time janitors have felt and experienced this growth in griminess and cussing as well. Roxi Fury is one of the nine janitors. Her shift begins at the end of fourth lunch in which she cleans up after the final lunch shift.

“I’ve seen it happen right in front of me as if they don’t care. They throw food or leave trays and walk off like nothing happened,” Fury said.

This is Fury’s sixth year working as a janitor at HHS. She believes that over her years working, the cafeteria has gotten progressively worse.

“It’s worse than past years. A lot of it is apples and people busting them in the bathrooms against the walls. The other big problems are powdered sugar and syrup. It’s worse than past years, but not too much. It’s always been a mess,” Fury said.

Fury believes she has the diagnosis for the root of the problem.

“[I think] it’s just them being teenagers. They’re showing off to their friends and they think they can just get away with anything. It’s about ego. There needs to be consequences for their actions. They need to be made to pick it up and clean it up,” Fury said.

With all of these problems rearing their heads this year, there has also been talk of solutions.

Sophomore Tucker McGrath is in a select group known as the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee. Each high school grade has representatives that meet with the superintendent, Dr. Scott Kizner, each month to discuss issues within the school.

“We talked a little bit about the overpopulation issue and how that linked into the issues we have with cussing and [messiness in] the cafeteria… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talk about how disgusting the cafeteria is by third or fourth lunch. People want it to stop,” McGrath said.

The committee also put on discussion of the issues of cussing in school.

“With cussing, it’s just gotten out of control. Kids don’t really care if there are adults around anymore and just use the F bomb in every sentence. Teachers and other students don’t want to hear it,” McGrath said.

For both issues, the committee generated one solution.

“We briefly discussed a social movement and people kind of making it cool to clean up [and not cuss]. Posters were tried last year, [but this year] Prieto wants to have a meeting at each lunch with people to find out who really cares,” McGrath said.

The Student Council Association has also discussed the issues and is currently working on solving the issue.

Despite the severity of the issue to McGrath, he believes the cause is only a small group.

“I think a lot of the issues with the cafeteria have to do with laziness and not caring. I think there’s about 20 students that don’t care and ruin the tables for everybody after them,” McGrath said.

McGrath experiences the cafeteria filth everyday and even sees it in the making.

“I’ve seen people drop things and just not pick them up, I’ve seen people create really disgusting concoctions out of all of their food and then pour it on the tables or just leave it,” McGrath said. “It’s really unfair to the janitors that come in afterwards and have to clean up all of the unnecessary messes that the students make.”

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