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Student leaders presented potential approaches to open campus lunch, suggested trial period by January

Molalla High School student body president Natalee Litchfield and vice president Emilie Mendoza went before the school board this month to continue conversations about the possibility of open campus lunch.

"I just think it's interesting because we have quite a bit of friends that attend other schools that surround our area," Mendoza said. "Some of them are bigger schools than Molalla; some are smaller schools than Molalla. But a lot of them already have open campus. And when we ask them the question of what that is or how their school goes about it, they're surprised that we don't have open campus."


The two student leaders presented several potential approaches including the following:

-Open campus with current lunch schedule of 30-minute split lunches

-Open campus with extended split lunches

-Open campus with a single, extended lunch period

-Open campus with restrictions to be determined (restrictions could include open campus only for upperclassmen, for students with certain grades, or only for licensed drivers)

Litchfield and Mendoza suggested that extending the lunch period(s) to 42 minutes could be achieved by shaving two minutes off of each class period.

Board member Craig Loughridge expressed support, but reminded the students that the state requires a certain number of instructional hours per year. Therefore, if hours were shaved off of class periods, that may extend the academic year.

"So you'll get your open campus, but you'll have to go to school more days per year," he said.

In fact, shaving two minutes off of each class period may extend the academic year by as many as eight days.

The students also noted they would reach out to various stakeholders to solicit their opinions such as students, parents, restaurant owners, police and homeowners in the area, and then report back by the December school board meeting. At that point, they said they'd request a two-week trial period beginning in January to potentially open campus for good before the end of the current academic year, or at least by next school year.

"Of course we would like for it to be enacted during our time in if it would be possible to do that by third [trimester] if you decide to support it, we would appreciate that, but that's not necessary," Litchfield said.

Board member Jennifer Satter said she was impressed with the amount of thought and effort the students had put into planning, but cautioned that the timeline might be too ambitious.

"I know you guys are really hoping to have this before the end of your senior year, and honestly that would really be a stretch," Satter said.

To that, Litchfield responded with the utmost confidence.

"I totally hear you with the two-month period of data collection might seem a little bit rushed, but we do have the support of our entire leadership class, who I think have proven that we're capable of achieving a lot," Litchfield said.

"We're the ones who put on Share the Love every year," she continued. "In three weeks, we raised $90,000.

"So I think if we can do that, we're capable of tackling this and collecting enough information," she said.

While board members offered several other suggestions, in the end, they offered their full support for the students continuing this process.

Kristen Wohlers
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- Students push for open-campus lunch at Molalla High

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