Miriam Hamermesh Feature/Entertainment Editor
Much to the dismay of many upperclassmen, off-campus lunches have been reduced to once every other week. This brief, much-needed reprieve from the dull gray walls of Pioneer allows students to get a breath of fresh air and a stomach full of delicious food that is unavailable when they are forced to stay inside.
Underclassmen need this break just as much as older kids. Even the idea that they could leave is a liberating feeling. The ability to escape the building for just half an hour a day allows people to clear their heads for the second half of the day.
Meghan Harrington Feature/Entertainment Editor
Every other Friday of the school year, Pioneer students rush to the parking lot to go off-campus during lunch. Off-campus lunch is a great time to see friends and have a short break from school; however, it’s a privilege given only to juniors and seniors. The question of whether or not underclassmen should also be allowed to go off campus is often brought up, but off-campus lunch should firmly remain a right for upperclassmen.
Despite the fact that most sophomores and freshmen don’t have their driver’s licenses, they should still be allowed to leave the campus. They can bum rides from their older friends or siblings with driver’s licenses. The graduated license rule limiting new drivers to one passenger does not apply, because students are going to and from school.
Additionally, many students, both under- and upperclassmen, rely on the school cafeteria for their lunch. The bland, uniform food offered offers students a limited menu that doesn’t change much from week to week. Enabling all students to go off campus will provide a more diverse menu for them to choose from once every couple of weeks.
Furthermore, despite Michelle Obama’s efforts to make school foods healthier, the cafeteria is still far from a cornucopia of nutrition. By going off campus, students are exposed to a whole world of food options that are healthier than the food served in the cafeteria — nutritious food that is important to students both younger and older.
It is also important for underclassmen to be allowed off campus because it helps them to build independence. Younger students are exposed earlier to a college-like experience of choosing where to get a good meal away from their school cafeterias. Allowing 9th and 10th grade students this freedom will prepare them better for life after high school.
One of the main reasons underclassmen should not be allowed to go off campus is because the majority of them do not have a driver’s license. Many may argue that freshmen and sophomores can catch a ride with an older student, but the main issue is safety. If upperclassmen start driving underclassmen in addition to friends they may already carpool with, the number of students piles up. As young adults who have only been driving for one or two years, having too many people in a car becomes a hazardous distraction. According to the official U.S. Government Website For Distracted Driving, the youngest and most inexperienced drivers are at the most risk for getting involved in a car crash. This means that if juniors and seniors were to start taking freshmen and sophomores with them off campus, the chances of getting in an accident would be much higher.
In addition to the safety issue, underclassmen have not proven that they are trustworthy enough to leave the school building in the middle of the day. At Pioneer, going off campus is a big responsibility. Students who go off campus have to make sure they arrive back to school on time for their fourth hour classes. Underclassmen have not shown the administrators that they are capable and responsible enough to go off campus. They need to demonstrate throughout their freshmen and sophomore years that they are dependable enough to go off campus.
More than anything, off-campus lunch is a rite of passage at Pioneer. It shows that a student is finally an upperclassman and has transformed into a mature, young adult. Off-campus lunch means that a student has finally earned the right to leave the school grounds once every two weeks to enjoy the freedom of being an upperclassman.
Off-campus is a reward that the juniors and seniors have earned after two years of demonstrating exceptional academics and behavior. The underclassmen, however, have not yet earned this reward, and they need to wait their turn for off-campus just like the upperclassmen had to.