Should Urbana Have an Hour Long Lunch Shift?


Jess Kilgore, Reporter

High schools in Frederick County are testing a new kind of lunch: an open hour long lunch shift. Governor Thomas Johnson High School became the first school to change to this open lunch shift in the 2018-2019 school year. Called “Patriot Hour,” it is a time for students to eat lunch, participate in clubs, access tutoring, and do many other things. If this open lunch shift is successful, it could soon spread to other high schools including Urbana. Here’s why it would be beneficial to the school and the students.

First of all, a longer lunch shift would give students more time to eat lunch. Students who have to wait in the cafeteria line or eat slowly wouldn’t have to worry about not finishing their lunch or hurrying to try and finish their lunch before the bell. Students would have an hour to eat lunch instead of only 23 minutes. At TJ High School, lunch is served in both the cafeteria and the concession stand at the gymnasium lobby to reduce the lines and give students more space. Urbana could do something similar to this by serving lunch in different places around the school to prevent the cafeteria from getting crowded.

One long lunch shift would also help students academically, as it gives them time to get ahead on their homework. This is especially helpful because students would have classmates and teachers nearby to help them with any questions, as opposed to them struggling to figure it out on their own at home. At TJ, teachers post dates and times they are available for tutoring during the lunch shift. Being able to have tutoring during school would be very helpful for any student who struggles to stay after school due to transportation or after school activities. Specifically, this would help student athletes who have practice after school or students who rely on a bus to take them home. As Urbana student Alyssa Ferrante said, “An hour long lunch shift will allow students to get their work done inside of school instead of outside of school”. This easy access to tutoring will help many students make up work and be more prepared for their classes.

Also, having just one lunch shift during the day would make it so students don’t have to leave in the middle of class to go to lunch. At Urbana, the second and third lunch shifts occur in the middle of 3rd block. This means that students must leave their 3rd block class to go to lunch and then after lunch they return to their class. This interrupts instruction time and testing time. Having one lunch shift would get rid of this problem and remove any lunch shift confusion.

An hour long lunch would also let more kids participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs. At TJ, clubs are held during Patriot Hour. The clubs range from Chess club to Hip Hop Dance club to Drama Club. With an hour long lunch shift, there would be more clubs and students would be more likely to participate in them.The clubs could also meet more often than once a month, allowing them more time to prepare for fundraisers and other events.

Patriot Hour would also allow time for other extracurricular activities such as Academic Team or Dance Team practice. Being able to hold practices during school would encourage more kids who may be busy with other practices or afterschool activities to participate in these extracurricular activities during school. Not only does TJ High School hold clubs and practices during this time, but they also include other special events or activities. For example, they held a class for college application assistance during Patriot Hour. Having extra events and activities like this would greatly benefit students.

An hour long lunch shift would also provide plenty of time for students to speak with their guidance counselors so they could easily discuss their schedule or college information. Currently at Urbana students must first request a meeting with their guidance counselor and then their counselor will take them out of class to hold the meeting. This process is very involved and takes away class time, meaning students end up missing work. With an hour long lunch shift students could have meeting with their guidance counselors during lunch so they don’t have to miss class and it would make it easier for counselors to set up meetings. A student from TJ, Amber Rayford, described Patriot Hour as “amazing because we actually have time to organize and take care of what needs to be done and it teaches us how to be responsible.”

An hour long lunch shift would be perfect for Urbana high School. Freshmen Addison Lauer said, “Having lunch for one hour gives you a lot more time to talk with your friends, get tutoring, and finish your homework”.Students would have more time to eat lunch. Students would have time to go to tutoring or make up work during school. An hour long lunch shift would allow more time for clubs and extracurricular activities. To learn more about Patriot Hour at Thomas Johnson High School, visit