What we can learn about admin from the SMART Lunch suspension

SMART Lunch will come back soon, but trust between students and administration will not.

The senior class has been through three principals in our four years. We see new faces in the front office every year. We have received countless broken promises and empty threats.

This year was a fresh opportunity for the administration team. It is the first full year that contains any semblance of normalcy post-COVID. It is the first full year of Dr. Woods-Weeks’ administration. We, as students, were ready to rebuild relationships with the people making decisions over us.

But then SMART Lunch was taken away. I don’t know if admin didn’t fully understand what SMART Lunch meant to our community, but they seemed wholly unprepared for our reactions. Students rely on SMART Lunch for clubs, tutoring, make-up work, and socialization, and with this sudden decision made with no regard for our plans, we were left scrambling to find a way to reorganize.

We understand the importance of student safety. If the administration had come to us from a place of care, had told us they needed to temporarily suspend SMART Lunch because they needed to protect us, and had prepared a concrete plan we would have understood. But instead they took it away, with no plan, no return date, and no information.

The first announcement about the end of SMART Lunch was sent out to the teachers at 4:09pm on a Thursday, and lunch was suspended the very next day. Parents were told that evening, but students were not directly informed until the day of, a couple short hours before the policy was put in effect.

And now the administration is asking for feedback, for our solutions to a problem that most of us did not create, without recognizing the pain and betrayal we are feeling. No one apologized to us. To one even acknowledged our feelings. The administration team is ready to move on but we are not.

Why were students treated like an afterthought? Why weren’t students given time to process, to reckon, and were instead directed to follow a new lunch schedule that none of us have experienced before?

We see admin’s attempts to include us in a solution-based conversation, but right now it feels like an effort to save face. Something that administrators can do to make it look like they care about our opinions. We wanted an outlet for them to hear our voices, but instead at the assemblies it was clear they already knew what they planned on doing. We will not be able to share authentic and effective solutions until we feel seen and heard first.

SMART Lunch is set to return, but there has already been lasting damage inflicted on the student body. If this program was taken away abruptly with no warning or input, what can we expect when this administrative team faces new problems in the future? This action sets a precedent for future issues that will inevitably arise this year, and what we have learned is that there will be no communication and no acknowledgement of our feelings until after the fact.

We’d be happy to help you solve this problem and all future problems, but we want you to treat us like members of this community first.

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