Snacks served as civics lesson

Teacher and students want to allow snacks in the classroom


A teacher is proposing a change of rules for high school students that would treat them more like adults in the classroom and let them eat snacks as needed while working.

An ongoing, time-consuming issue at Lake Roosevelt is not allowing students to have any food or drinks in the classroom, as per a rule stated in the student handbook, according to civics teacher Brandon Keene, who used the issue as lesson in real-life civics.

“Eating will always be a need for them,” said Keene, who also teaches world history. “We should not waste our classroom time making them feel guilty about snacking, but rather teaching them the proper way to fuel up without making messes or distracting others.”

Keene told the Grand Coulee Dam School District board of directors Oct. 22 that he likes to treat his students as young adults, and tells them so on the first day of school.

“They are capable of meeting this expectation,” Keene said. “By constantly policing my students’ food and drinks, I do not feel like I am treating them like young adults.”

Keene said that the topic takes up time in the classroom, as well as in staff room discussions, time that could be better spent addressing issues like chronic absences or issues with a lack of respect from some students toward staff.

“We are spending a lot of valuable time on this issue, and I don’t think it’s necessary,” Keene said.

“Our students have demanding schedules,” Keene said. “Their brains are pulled in seven different directions throughout the day. Many of them are walking to the old building and back, and most of them are breaking a sweat during PE. A four-minute passing period has them rushing to swap materials from their lockers, use bathroom facilities, and make it to class on time.”

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Keene said some of his students have finished breakfast and left their homes before 7 a.m. to get to school, and athletes rush out at the end of the day to get suited for practice.

“Their energy is already low. It happens daily that my students in sports jerseys fall asleep at their desk,” Keene said.

Keene admitted already sometimes allowing students to snack in his room. “I see their energy levels come back up, and I have effectively bought their attention for the rest of the period.”

He said that also helps students to recognize “that I care for their basic needs, and that I can’t stand to see them go hungry.”

Keene doesn’t think all foods should be allowed; for example, lidless containers of soda could create a problem, or orange dust-covered Cheetos wouldn’t provide nutrition and could cause messes.

A mock congress in Keene’s civics class had students passing bills related to allowing snacks in class, showing that it is an issue they care about.

The school board encouraged Keene to talk to the administrators, who can then make an adjustment to the handbook. Keene hopes to make that adjustment next month, rather than waiting until next spring, when administrators are looking to make other adjustments to the handbook.

“It seems inefficient to wait until the spring to deal with this,” Keene said. “It would be nice to find a shortcut to take this off our agenda.”


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