By Ellie Bailey '19
It’s an ordinary day in the cafeteria at NCS. Floods of underclassmen rush in at the beginning of B lunch and attempt to form lines at the buffet while students with A lunch, mainly upperclassmen, attempt to cut the line, paper plates in hand, to snag some food before their next class.
After the rush at the beginning of B lunch, students disperse to eat their food. Some will eat in the lunchroom whereas others will sit on the Cathedral lawn if the weather is warm. A particularly rebellious bunch will head to the student commons or their respective grade lounges to scarf down their food, despite rules that ban such behavior.
Many students will eat during times that are not their assigned lunch period, such as during a free ensemble or the Club block. Only 9.3% of the forty-three NCS students polled reported never eating food from the cafeteria outside of their designated lunch period. Students and teachers rarely eat together unless it is a special #facultystudentlunch. Brigitte Meyer says she appreciates NCS’s dining system: “I like having the option to eat during a free and use lunch to study or vice versa.”
NCS students can also eat at Open City if their schedule (and wallet) permits. 60% of NCS students polled stated that they do not eat food from the cafeteria at least once a cycle. Only seniors can leave campus for lunch, but other students can enjoy food they bring from home, snacks from the bookstore, or food from Open City.
Meanwhile, across the Close at St. Albans, no students have lunch until the equivalent of NCS A lunch. Students are required to eat lunch in the refectory, the St. Albans dining room, at assigned tables with teachers, unless they are floating. Meals are served family-style. Jack Tongour believes that “family-style is great for the community aspect but a lot of [the food] gets thrown away… Seating is good [when it is assigned]. It would be cliquey otherwise, but the food system causes too much food waste.”
Floating at STA is an alternative to eating at assigned tables. Students submit applications on floatfloat.com or are chosen randomly to eat elsewhere due to lack of space in the refectory. Names are chosen each table rotation.
Lawson Karppi says that “A lot of people float for consistency. It’s chaotic sitting at a lunch table because every day there’s a new table question to decide who will clear the table. There’s a sense of security in knowing you just go to the line, find a spot outside or wherever, and then, when done, put your plate away in the kitchen yourself.”
There are pros and cons to each school’s lunch style. At St. Albans, students can meet other students and teachers that they might not have otherwise met. However, NCS’s dining system allows students to enjoy a more nonchalant dining experience, relax with friends between classes, and take food on the go if they need to cram for a test next period.