Don’t you dare touch my lunchtime

Club leader speaks out against proposed SEL time

Lucas Salm-Rojo, Guest Contributor

As President and Supreme Leader of Ballard High Schools Bicycle Club, I try to stay up to date on the latest goings on in the make-up of our school order. As such, I was appalled when I heard that our school board was contemplating a change to our lunch schedule. It is rumored that the school board has proposed taking 20 minutes of our lunch period and adding it to one of our normal class periods to be used as time for social emotional learning (SEL). This would leave us with a 30 minute lunch period and one class period that is 75 minutes long. While this is idiotic purely on the fact I don’t want one of my classes to be 75 minutes long, it is also objectionable for other reasons.

With only a 30 minute lunch period my club would not be able to do half of the things we do currently. With our current lunch period my club is able to do fun club things while also being able to learn and grow. I challenge any school administrator to attempt to provide the variety of learning offered by our schools clubs. Whether you want to learn about urban planning and pedestrian infrastructure at Bike Club, discuss the meaning of masculinity and how to healthily interact with it at Positive Masculinity Club, learn more about other cultures at one of our many student unions, or expand your understanding of literature at one of Ms. Chambers’ many book clubs, Ballard High Schools clubs provide their own type of social emotional learning that no district mandated SEL time will be able to counter.

While elementary and middle schoolers are not emotionally mature and need a teacher to sit them down and force them to evolve socially and emotionally, Highschoolers are a little too emotionally mature for that to work. When you force a Highschooler into SEL time, they are not going to pay attention, especially if the SEL that is being taught is just basic boring stuff like “don’t be racist”. The students who are interested in socially and emotionally learning already know not to be racist, and the students who need to stop being racist are not the ones who would even think about listening.

The school board needs to socially learn themselves. They need to understand the learning dynamics that are involved in social emotional learning that differentiates it from learning algebra. Growing as a person is not the same as learning new facts about science and it shouldn’t be treated like it. By shortening lunch, students who are interested in growing as a person and learning from the array of diverse perspectives provided by our schools clubs will be unable to do so. School is a place of learning, and adding a 20 minute chunk of SEL time where nothing will be learned seems contrary to that primary objective.

I encourage the school board to stop its consideration of this change. I also encourage you, the readers, to reach out to our school board representative and share what you gain from BHS’s clubs, and what you don’t want to lose. Lisa Rivera Smith who represents Ballard and Magnolia can be reached at [email protected].