Lunch for grades 9-11 may remain closed
By Barbie Porter
Frazee High School seniors may have an option to spend lunch outside of the building.
During its monthly meeting on Monday, Jan. 10, Frazee High School Principal Anna Potvin said the topic had been discussed with some staff. The team leading the discussion recommended the board consider providing the option to eat off campus to seniors starting Jan. 24, with stipulations.
Currently, the district has three lunch periods, one for grades 7-8, another for grades 9-10 and one for grades 11-12. Potvin explained there is some crossover with grades, based on classes. For example if one is in a 9-12 grade elective when lunch period is set, that student may eat at a time when most of their peers may not.
If the school board were to approve an open campus, she said recommendations for the team that reviewed the option included having everyone who goes off campus do so through the main doors, and return through them as well. Any student returning before lunch period ends would need to return to the red gym. Students would not be allowed to access vehicles during lunch either.
Potvin noted the privilege may be removed if disciplinary concerns arise, either for individual students or the entire student body.
She added, the board is asked to consider keeping the campus closed for the start of the school year, allowing for the seniors to earn the option for the second semester.
Potvin said she and the team reviewing the option identified issues of shoplifting, tardiness or smoking as potential issues with open campus during lunch.
School board member Daneele Shipman asked if there were significant problems downtown when open lunches were available to more of the student body, specifically with shoplifting and smoking.
Potvin stated she felt there was enough of a problem to be a concern.
Board member Tyler Trieglaff recalled the change to limit open campus during lunch started three or four years ago. Trieglaff, who is also the Frazee Police Chief said years ago, there were interactions with students smoking and so forth. He noted the initial change was to limit open lunch to grades 11-12, but last year no student was given that privilege due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While he initially agreed with the change, Trieglaff stated he has since changed his opinion and thinks juniors and seniors should be allowed off campus during lunch period.
He pointed out kids in neighboring districts have that privilege and trust given to them. He believes students at Frazee should be given the same respect.
Shipman suggested offering open campus as long as the students don’t cross the line to where it is a problem.
Superintendent Terry Karger recommended the board define what “the line” would be.
“I think all kids are good, but good kids make mistakes, too,” he said.
Potvin noted one concern with open campus is lack of supervision, “which is stretched thin” during lunch periods. She noted lunch duties lies mostly on the activities director, her and the counselors. If open campus were allowed, then additional supervision would be needed in the halls to ensure classes in session were not disrupted.
“Supervision is the biggest challenge in my mind,” she said.
Board Chair Thaddeus Helmers asked if members of student council were given an opportunity to discuss ideas or concerns with Potvin, outside of a board meeting.
She explained officers from Student Council set meetings with her, but they are sporadic. While she would like the meetings to be on a regular basis, her other duties can make scheduling a challenge. However, she emphasized she would make time and welcome discussions with members of the student council.
Shipman stated she liked the idea of gathering input from student council, as they may have solutions to concerns presented.