The following post is a satire. All quotes, accounts, and characters used in the story are fabricated for authorial style and effect.
The 2016-2017 school year is one of many new beginnings for Lake Forest High School, including a new schedule with two days of block classes. Due to the schedule change, there are now embedded lunch periods for all students. With around 500 students in each of the three lunch periods and the disappearance of the snack shop, the cafeteria has become crowded and chaotic. Between the well-meaning, confused Freshmen and domineering, hungry Seniors, buying lunch has become extremely difficult and relatively lawless. The added factor of the lunch periods being shortened to 25 minutes has created an urgency that panics most students who wish to eat something more substantial than a chocolate chip cookie or shrimp tempura.
As LFHS students have been taught to be inventive problem-solvers, they have found a more efficient solution to the cafeteria situation. LFHS students have actually created a hunting and gathering society in place of frustrating long lines and second-choices. Students have been taking advantage of the wooded areas around the bike path and behind the school. Amidst the student body, there has been a clear divide between the hunters and gatherers, with the football team being the primary hunters and the Environmental Club being the primary gatherers. The two sides of the school depend on each other to survive, increasing teamwork that many teachers have noticed transfers over to the classroom.
“It’s really quite fascinating to see the way this new experience has bonded the students,” says one English teacher. “One day they don’t know each other’s names and the next they’re exchanging a bag of berries for a squirrel burger. It’s an inspiring message for the community.”
The students themselves are also enthusiastic about the new process. After talking to a variety of students, I found that each had found something about the antiquated method to love.
When asked what her favorite part of being a gatherer is, a senior says, “I like how there are so many healthy options.” Meanwhile, a junior states she “enjoys the unique opportunity for learning about the wildlife in Lake Forest”. A freshman explains that she has loved the experience because she has met so many new people through it.
“The two of us met while we were reaching for the same tree branch,” she informs me, gesturing to her new best friend. “I never would have met Abby if it hadn’t been for this new lunch plan. It gives you a really easy way to talk to different people, not just in your grade, but in all grades. There are already some great junior and senior gatherers I look up to, and it’s nice to have that mentorship when everyone out there is fighting for their lives. Definitely my favorite part of the new schedule.”
In addition to all these fun benefits, some students simply admire it for the simplicity of the system.
“It’s just a bit quicker and easier,” says a junior, as she picks small leaves from her hair. “The environment outdoors is a little less competitive than inside the cafeteria.”
The ways in which the food is captured ranges from elaborate traps to weeding the grounds, but it can be ensured that every student gets their fair share by the end of the lunch period. Students have also begun to recognize in-class activities that can provide them with the food necessary for the day. The egg drop project now has the added touch of survival of the fittest, for those students whose eggs survive have lunch that day without the stress of foraging. Those in Biology classes making french fries always come prepared with salt and ketchup, and those in Chemistry making ice cream are the envy of the other students who can not find an equally sweet dessert outside. The students anticipate the biggest rest day will be March 14th, also known as “pi day”. Due to the 3-14 written date, most math classes bring in pie, a highly anticipated event among the hunter-gatherer society.
“It will be weird eating man-made food again, with all that processed sugar and pesticides,” says one student, clearly unaware of how a pie is made, “but after putting in such hard work for a year, everyone deserves a treat.”
Eager to hear their take on this change, I spoke to the cafeteria staff. Many of them expressed positive thoughts about it.
“It makes the lines much more manageable,” one worker tells me, sipping a coffee from the recently added and currently empty coffee bar. “Those few students who haven’t joined the hunter-gatherer practices take their time buying food, and we often get to have conversations with them. It’s helped me get to know the students on a much more personal level. Also, the cafeteria is much quieter. I get less headaches now.” The many other employees I spoke to said similar things, showing the overall positive effects of this new LFHS tradition. Lynn declined to comment.
The administration has found no problem with it as of yet, though they have been monitoring it closely to ensure that no complications arise amongst rivaling groups of students. In fact, higher levels of administration have been heard singing the praises of this new implementation.
“The last thing we want is for this to divide the student body. Here at LFHS, we value inclusion and acceptance. Our first concerns were that fights would break out between students who became greedy or territorial. However, after close observation of the system, we have decided that there is so much opportunity within the land surrounding the school that there is no cause for competition.” At this point, the teacher stopped to offer me a chipmunk chip, which I politely declined. “If anything, this is proof of the unique capabilities and creativity of LFHS students. Our students will rest at nothing to find a solution to their problems, and one that is beneficial for everyone and not just for their select group of friends. Frankly, I couldn’t be more proud.”
The hunting and gathering has sparked positive reactions all across the board, and Lake Forest High School students have no intent of stopping anytime soon. As the student body improves their foraging skills, berry-juice stained lips are spread to reveal healthy smiles. Rumors about possible agricultural development in the Lindenmeyer Field, but for now the students are happy to live off the land as they find it.
As wide-eyed Freshman says, “Lunch at LFHS is one of the big changes freshmen deal with coming from middle school. A lot of aspects of high school are like that. I have a study hall now, I’m able to take an art class and I have a newfound appetite for grass and ants. Everyone is making little adjustments like that, but high school is all about trying new things!”