Opinion: Is the lunchroom the place for more grades?


Splash photo Watertown Splash staff

The expectations for the Watertown Middle School lunch room are listed on the wall.

Teagan Janis, Watertown Splash staff

At school, we are constantly being judged. Graded on how we write and if we can solve algebraic equations. Lunch used to be everyone’s favorite time of the day for that reason. The one time where we could talk to our friends, eat, play games, all without much punishment.

Starting early this year, Watertown Middle School has gone through a big change. We are getting graded at lunch. Graded on what we do and how we act during our 30-minute lunch period at school. Many students are not thrilled about what is going on.

As an attempt to make students behave better, assistant principal Jason DelPorto offered a small reward of going down to the lower gym to eat lunch, listen to music, and/or play basketball, to the tables that earned it. Many students, however, decided not to take part in the reward, for their own reasons. Whether it be they just didn’t like basketball or would rather be in the cafeteria with a table to eat on. Mr. DelPorto added that he would be open to other alternative ideas within reason.

How does it work? We are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the absolute worst and 5 being perfect — or as close to perfect as humanly possible. You have to wind up with an average of at least a 4 by the end of the two-week period in order to have the privilege to go the gym. Many tables end up with all 5s, many others end up with a mix of 1s, 2s, and 3s.

“I think [the lunch grading system] is working great! We will definitely be starting back up after [winter] break,” Mr. DelPorto said in December.

From an administrator’s perspective, it may seem to be working well, in the sense that some kids are behaving better a lunch. But what about a student’s perspective? Many people have friends who are in a different cluster or just aren’t in any of their classes, and lunch is the only time during school when those in this situation get to hang out with friends. We should be able to get up and talk, be a little loud, and just be kids!

As long as everyone is safe, everything is OK. No need to be judged.

–Feb. 11, 2019–