Commons Revamp: Burritos, Pizza, New Seating

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Sidney , Layout Editor

Poly Prep has re-opened Commons for all students and faculty for the 2022-2023 school year. Last year, Commons was only open to freshmen, sophomores, and faculty, but now it is accommodating the entire school. Due to the massive decline in COVID-19 numbers, CDC guidelines now permit larger gatherings, allowing Poly to fit more people in Commons at once. In addition, Commons has also undergone many physical and procedural changes, including  a wider variety of food options and more seating. 

Last year, Commons food was not only served there but also in the quad and tennis court tents. This year, the tennis court tents have been removed, the Quad tent has been converted into the Blue Devil Deli (which only serves snacks and cold, premade meals for purchase), and lunch is only served in Commons. However, the Deli is closed during lunch periods so it can not be used as a substitution for lunch.

Rebekah Sollitto, Assistant Head of Strategic Initiatives at Poly, was one of the key people involved in making these changes. She says that one of the main reasons for getting rid of the tennis court tents was that “having multiple places where we are trying to serve a lot of different options for students was a huge challenge. So we learned from kids that when they were having lunch in the tennis court tents, it did not feel like the options were as good or …the food was what they had hoped for.” Since they were already planning on getting rid of the tennis court tents, Sollitto and the other members of the committee decided that there needed to be more than one place for people to sit and eat. This is why there is now additional seating in the Student Center, Trophy Room, Tower Room, and the Blue Devil Deli. 

Commons has also seen some major changes in food since last year and now includes a salad bar, sandwich-making station, burrito bar, and Table 87 pizza. According to Sollitto, the addition of new food choices and food bars is because Poly wants “to make the student and employee experience even better.”

Students have noticed the significant changes to Commons. Poly Senior Elektra Urbastch says she likes the variety of options. “We have our hot lunch, we have a pizza bar, our burrito bar, and at the same time we have a salad and sandwich bar, so there are options for everyone.” 

Senior Rachael DiLieto said she likes the changes in Commons because she now has the opportunity to sit with all her friends in the same place.“No one’s in tents this year. No one is sitting somewhere else eating. [And] there is enough space…which is good,” 

There are many advantages to eating with a large group of people. Anais Kingsberry, Poly’s upper school psychologist, said in an email to the Polygon that there is a plethora of research that shows “eating with others can help build and strengthen friendships…[and] those who eat with others typically feel better about themselves, are more satisfied with their lives and have more friends they can depend on for support.” 

While some students have loved the changes in Commons, others have not. Poly Senior Cooper Flinn-Beane says he dislikes the fact that “the lines are a lot longer, which means I have less time to eat.” Sollitto and her team have acknowledged that lunch lines may have become longer this year, but she says it makes sense because last year “there were so many tents and …fewer options.” The tents made it easier for Commons workers to serve students more efficiently, thus shorter lines. 

Sollitto said she acknowledges that the system is not perfect and is always looking to better the Commons experience. She and her team look to continue to make improvements, just like those made this year, to better the Poly community.