Hickman students' lunch-time behavior questioned

Thursday, October 16, 2008 | 7:26 p.m. CDT; updated 2:08 p.m. CDT, Saturday, October 18, 2008

COLUMBIA — On any given weekday between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., the McDonald's on Business Loop 70 is swarming with teenagers gossiping, joking and eating.

Many of them are on lunch break from Hickman High School.

Last week, however, the doors to McDonald's were closed to students from Hickman. The students were told they could not enter the restaurant — only use the drive-through — because of recent student misbehavior.

On Oct. 8, morning announcements at Hickman told students they were no longer welcomeinside during lunch.

The announcement was a result of a series of incidents including a broken window, aggressive and dangerous driving and a fight in the parking lot, according to Lili Vianello, owner of Visionworks, McDonald's communication firm.

Vianello denied that McDonald's had declared an official policy to prohibit students from eating inside the restaurant.

McDonald's management discussed the student behavior with Hickman administrators before the announcement was made, said Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent of the Columbia Public Schools.

A few hours later, McDonald's retracted the statement and agreed to allow students back inside the restaurant for lunch, starting the next day.

Since then, Hickman students have heard daily announcements reminding them to be "respectful of McDonald's property and employees."

Like Hickman, Rock Bridge and Douglass High Schools have historically allowed students to eat off-campus during lunch.

Administrators at Rock Bridge and Douglass said they have received no reports about student misbehavior during lunch. Although off-campus lunch is an option, it is discouraged in morning announcements and student handbooks.

The school district has discussed changing the high school lunch policy, although not recently, Barnett said. In the past, any decision to close campus during lunch hours has been made by individual schools. Students like to eat off campus, she said, and parents usually support that decision.

Barnett said Hickman students were not involved in the recent incident at McDonald's, although the window was broken during the lunch hour.

Hickman student Brittany Avery said most of the problems occur during the "A" lunch period between 11:30 a.m. and noon every weekday except Tuesday, when it occurs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

She said a police officer occasionally patrols the restaurant during lunch. Vianello, McDonald's spokeswoman, said the past week has been uneventful.

McDonald's is not the only restaurant near Hickman that has reported incidents during lunch. In September, a male student was arrested at 11:40 a.m. at Dairy Queen for possession of an unloaded handgun in his backpack.

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Ray Shapiro October 16, 2008 | 8:21 p.m.

Barnett said. In the past, any decision to close campus during lunch hours has been made by individual schools.

Hickman student Brittany Avery said most of the problems occur during the "A" lunch period between 11:30 a.m. and noon every weekday except Tuesday, when it occurs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

She said a police officer occasionally patrols the restaurant during lunch.

a male student was arrested at 11:40 a.m. at Dairy Queen for possession of an unloaded handgun in his backpack.

{***Save the town a lot of grief, Ms. Barnett, and have your schools enforce a "closed-campus" lunch policy.

Maybe the one's who make it to a "college-campus," someday, will have the emotional maturity to handle their independence.***}

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 17, 2008 | 4:23 a.m.

My question is what and how are parents teaching their children how to act these days?

(Report Comment)
Bryan Ross October 17, 2008 | 11:58 a.m.

Why should students be allowed to leave school grounds during lunch period? I think the schools are leaving themselves open to a liability risk should something happen to a student while they are off-campus during school hours. For everyone's safety (students, businesses, etc), I think the district should implement a system wide policy that ends open-campus lunch policy.

(Report Comment)
fritz laun October 17, 2008 | 1:21 p.m.

This just makes me laugh. You don't see students at Rock Bridge doing this, do you? A lot of this has to do with demographics. Hickman's student population and surrounding area don't create the best learning or even eating environment.

However, the people saying all CPS schools should have closed campus is insane. Do you not understand that due to poor planing there isn't enough room for everyone to eat on campus?

See what happens when the new high school opens, but I doubt they will close campuses down for lunch. However, I wouldn't mind seeing Hickmans lunch closed down since they can never seem to control themselves. I don't want to see schools like Rock Bridge that have enough brain power to not beat people up at lunch have a closed campus policy.

(Report Comment)
Hildy Johnson October 17, 2008 | 2:17 p.m.

Any chance the Missourian can do a story on school violence? Something in-depth

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 17, 2008 | 2:24 p.m.

Fritz Laun: I could be wrong, but do you attend Rock Bridge High School? You might feel that your crowd are perfect angels and shouldn't suffer from the "outing" of the Hickman kids. Granted that it seems that those attending our current most southernly high school don't make it in the news as much, but with "project" release time during the day and off-school premises lunches, you guys definitely have the opportunity for drug buys/usage and "under-the-radar" activities. I'm not insane, as you've tried to label me, I'm just a little bit more concerned about how much freedom our public schools extend to emotionally immature teenagers. Stay in school during the school day. You and our community will be better for it, in the long run. (Gee, I feel sorry for the adults who have to "watch" you guys.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 17, 2008 | 4:25 p.m.

Close the campuses. Period.

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken October 17, 2008 | 11:40 p.m.

I went to a very small private high school. We had off-campus lunches simply because there was no cafeteria at my school. Only seniors could use their cars at lunchtime and this was enforced. We had to have signed permission from our parents to go off campus. This worked out for the most part, though there was a problem where some kids did take the opportunity to do drugs at this time.
It makes no sense to me why a big public high school would have this sort of policy. They should have a cafeteria and stay on campus for the entire school day.

(Report Comment)
fritz laun October 18, 2008 | 4:37 p.m.

Ray Shapiro,

You are indeed wrong, I attend the University of Missouri. My sister went to Hickman and I am currently volunteering in the Rock Bridge Marching Band program as a snare tech.

You did nothing to comment on my stance of poor planing in the creation and future development of CPS schools. Until a new high school is built, there is simply no room to have all students eat on campus every single day. I believe Hickman has something around 20 - 30 minutes to eat lunch? I don't know how they even get through the line and find a place to sit down before they have to go to class.

Rock Bridge is certainly not full of "perfect angels", which you have labeled my view as. However, each and every school is different. It just so happens that the way Rock Bridge is setup it allows for off campus AUT's and off campus lunch to work effectively. Until Rock Bridge has an incident and the school's administrations sees it fit to close campus, then it will be closed at that time. The same goes for Douglas as well.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr October 18, 2008 | 6:16 p.m.

fritz laun you obviously missed my past posting of just how on campus lunches could be implemented and made to work.

First off I have seen the closed campus system work in other schools the size of Hickman High School with no problems and as such they do work.

The time has come for the parents of these obviously out of control teens to be held accountable and for CPS to be held accountable as well for the off campus ruckas' that do often times occur and spill back over onto school grounds.

Complacency by the parents of the good students and by the CPS itself on these issues just leads to more of the incidents we see as of last Wednesday and even more.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro October 18, 2008 | 8:04 p.m.

A "closed-campus" for all of Columbia serves as a preventative and corrective measure. It can and will be done as the general public puts pressure on the school board, school superintendant and our city council. Details can be worked out once the "order" is given to the High School principals. If the CPS is creative it can be implemented with the staff and premises they currently have. One idea regarding lines in the cafeteria; ever hear of a bagged lunch from home and eating in a classroom or auditorium? The auditorium might be a good place for the High School principal to hang out during his/her lunch as well.
I have lots of ideas. I'm just not paid enough to come up with all of the answers. I'll just keep giving Columbia Public Schools a failing grade.

(Report Comment)

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