When lunch bells ring at Redmond Elementary School, it now means “together time” for a greater number of students.
With help from the Lake Washington School District, Redmond Elementary PTSA and Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, new and larger lunch tables are being installed, increasing the number of children who can be served at each lunch period.
At the start of the 2008-09 school year, a significant jump in Redmond Elementary’s student population forced staff to implement a system of four lunch periods instead of three. There simply wasn’t enough room to accommodate all the kids. Those who were shifted to the fourth lunch period didn’t get to eat until 1 p.m. Many complained of headaches, growling tummies or inability to concentrate. Parents were asked to provide mid-morning snacks, but it certainly wasn’t the best solution.
Principal Janice Heid and PTSA members determined that rectangular lunch tables with benches, instead of round tables with stools, would better utilize the existing space in the lunch room and enable more seating.
With contributions from the school district and the PTSA, as well as a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s, Redmond Elementary was able to purchase five of the rectangular tables, with another four on order.
As of January, Heid has worked with teachers to return to a three-period lunch schedule and minimal disruption to classroom schedules.
“With the round tables, we were only able to fit 120 students at tables at one time,” Heid noted. “With over four hundred students, we had to have four lunches. With the new tables, we are able to fit 144 to 160, depending on the age (size) of the student. … Now our last lunch is at 12:30 p.m. Also, with added seating, our Family Fun nights can seat more people, so people don’t have to be turned away or stand and eat.”
Redmond Elementary will also use the tables for enrichment activities such as the school’s competitive chess club and science and math fairs.
For information about Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, visit www.toolboxforeducation.com.