Loud and Lively: The MS Lunch Experience


Charlotte Arzouian, Middle School Editor

The other day, I was a minute early to lunch. I vigorously sprinted down the hallways and as I approached the Trophy Room, I was met with an abundance of noise spilling from Commons, baby blue chairs, and, of course, a humongous line forming at the front of the cafeteria.

In the 2022-2023 school year, Poly decided to implement multiple new lunchroom features, which include pizza every Tuesday and Thursday, and a burrito and salad bar. Although these additions are widely appreciated among students, they tend to promote the perpetual busy nature in Commons.

 Three grades — 5th, 6th, and 7th — share a lunchroom from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., which resulted in students eating while standing after waiting in the 30-minute line on the first day of school. 

On a normal day, students are observed pushing each other, running, and yelling across their tables. At the beginning of this year, two seventh-grade advisories were assigned to eat in the Trophy Room because of the jammed-packed situation, a location which had its own complications. “Since there [are] not teachers out there monitoring it all the time, people break out into physical fights — not anything serious but some people tackle each other and spill food,” said 7th grade student Ava Fernandez. 

On November 21st, Head of Middle School André Del Valle announced that 5th and 6th graders will share the tables in the Trophy Room instead. In an email to the Middle School, he wrote that he hopes that the change “will help us to be more mindful of the importance of valuing/taking care of our community spaces.”

Head of School, Strategic Initiatives, Rebekah Sollitto, also offered an explanation to the chaos. “There are 900 students at the Dyker Heights campus and 4 lunch periods. Even if we were able to perfectly split those students mathematically, that would be 225 students per lunch period,” she wrote in an email to the Polygon. “We can’t do the perfect mathematical split because of scheduling constraints and we were really interested in keeping full grade levels of students together — this way, kids can eat with their friends. 5+6+7 grades together is 240 students, which is pretty close to 225. We added table seating in the Trophy Room this year as well to make sure that we have enough seating.” 

Middle School Assistant and Lunch Monitor Patricia Mascarini noted that although she does not find her job stressful, in the main cafeteria “when we as monitors have to tell the students to clean up before dismissal, it is so loud that sometimes the students cannot hear us. Also, when the deans try to quiet down the students in Commons it takes a bit of time.” She added that despite the noise, Commons is a great social spot to converse with friends.

 Seventh-grader Lalitha Jayaram offered a potential solution to the business when it comes to dismissal. “The tables that have behaved the best the day prior get to go to the lunch line [first].”

Sollitto added in her email to the Polygon that she is open to hearing students’ solutions.