The lunch break: A center for new beginnings, memories

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2001

All eyes in the class gratefully steal a glimpse at the accustomed clock above the chalk board. Three, two, one and -- finally -- the bell rings. Those students heading off campus for the 30-minute break madly gather their notes and textbooks to quickly escape the six periods of things such as cellular biology or microscopically analyzing the theme and symbols of Edgar Allen Poe's most famous work. Some rush to the computer lab for an enlightening session of e-mail. Others round up their friends and stride to their place of social gathering.

I can't think of anyone who doesn't enjoy a lunch break.

At least a handful of teachers take pleasure in reheating leftovers in their personal microwaves, while reviewing lessons with students in their cushioned, swivel desk chairs. Some staff gather in the lounge for a few minutes of chatting, and other administrators pace in and out of the commons, keeping an eye out for troublemakers.

For us, the students, lunchtime is a crucial part of the schedule in a day. Without it, I might not have ever said hello to my current best friend or had eye-opening conversations with fellow classmates.

Even in the minuscule amount of time we get for a breach in the day, we all seem to find a niche that suits us. The majority of our school ventures to the cafeteria, ready and willing to delve into the reheated and prepared meals the school provides.

As for me, the commons became my refuge and place of comfort throughout my four years of high school.

Since the first day of freshman year, my group has resided in the commons area to reveal our cold sack lunches. There we found Mom's napkin notes, showing her love, casually left in the organized package. We seated ourselves around the octagonal shaped table to chat about the school we would now make our home.

The few and far between upperclassmen I had been exposed to back then clustered around the senior bench or on the counter of the snack shack. Although we may have been segregated from the bulk of our class, our close-knit group enjoyed that side of the campus.

Best friends have been made, embarrassing moments have become our most horrifying experiences and heart-to-heart discussions have built multiple memories from our youth. The tables supplied kids with great surfaces for madly finishing assignments or viewing others work to match with their own. We celebrated birthdays as the entire school dove into feasting cake and joyous tunes.

Along with all the fond memories, some instances around the lunch table have instilled unforgettable recollections. When arguments and gossiping hurt feelings and end friendships, the pieces holding together relationships can be broken and lost forever.

And when you receive a detention for the one and only time you left campus without a school pass, why can't the administration just forgive and forget? Especially when you are restricted to serve time for two days in the wake of such a simple mistake.

This year, just as we all are diverging off into our own way and futures in life, we also are setting our pattern and standard during lunch. Our group, which used to consist of almost 12 people, has now shrunk to an average of four or so friends huddled around the same spot. Some people now take advantage of our privileged pass to leave campus every day for the lunch break, while others choose to study in the library.

In college, less than a year from now, you'll be patiently waiting in line for Taco Bell Express or a turkey sub, and you'll need a place to sit. You might contemplate for a few minutes and glance around at the seating arrangements.

Some of us will casually plop down next to a friendly looking group in a table near the middle of the room. Others will make a beeline for the corner. When we finally decide what our seating arrangements will be, wherever they are, there will be friendships to be made, homework to finish and memories waiting to be created.

Shamra Bauder is a senior at Kenai Central High School who has worked as an intern at the Peninsula Clarion.

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