DICKINSON — If you visit Dickinson High School during the lunch hour this coming school year, you will get more of a college feel as the campus transitions to SMART Lunch, or Students Maximizing Achievement, Relationships and Time.
“The purpose of SMART Lunch is to engage students by providing opportunities for all students to advance their academic performance, encourage personal responsibility and accountability, nurture positive and productive school relationships and offer practice in making real-world, time-management choices,” said Principal Billye Smith.
SMART Lunch will include all 2,400-plus students having their lunch break during the same hour, 11 a.m. to noon., but this hour will be about much more than just eating. Tutorials, club activities, student organization meetings, guest speakers or just working on homework in the computer labs or library will be some of the options available to students.
“If you watch our students in the cafeteria, when given 30 minutes for lunch, our students eat in about 15 minutes. For most of our students, SMART Lunch will give them about 45 minutes each day of valuable time where they can attend to academic issues and/or participate in school-sponsored social activities,” said Smith.
With the majority of Dickinson High School students riding the bus to and from school, having tutorials in the middle of the day instead of after school will make it possible for more students to attend.
Teachers and staff will still get a 30-minute duty-free lunch, but during the other 30 minutes they will be leading a club activity or tutorial session or monitoring students. A wide variety of clubs will be offered including a fishing club, book club, scrapbooking, an impromptu drama club, chess club and a gaming club. The list of clubs will continue to grow after the school year begins as the students and teachers make other suggestions.
To make the transition to SMART Lunch, Judy Lee, food and nutrition services director, said the dining and serving areas are undergoing a major renovation this summer. All the same popular menu items will be available as in the past, as well as additional side items fresh local fruits and vegetables, milk and extras. These meals will be made fresh daily and offered as a complete meal, and students may select other options.
The department will also be using a new packaging system for lunches where the meals are prepackaged and covered with a wrap similar to ready-to-eat meals you might find at a grocery store. Food stations and seating areas are being installed throughout the school to give students more areas to purchase and eat lunch.
Awnings are being installed above the patio and atrium areas along with picnic tables to allow students to eat lunch outside. In the school’s vintage gymnasium, tables and chairs will be added to one half, while the other half will feature ping-pong tables.
The first two weeks of the school year will be used to introduce the SMART Lunch system to students and teachers, with the school using a 30-minute lunch schedule similar to last year then having extra time for teachers to get students acquainted with the new lunch system.