Nevada Union High School will officially enact a closed campus policy for its students when the 2014-15 school year begins on Aug. 13.
District and school staff, though, have worked throughout the summer to make changes to the school’s lunchtime offerings, in order to serve the more than 1,800 students that will be on campus.
“We’ve hired one extra campus security, our activities directors are working on creating some more lunchtime activities to keep students engaged,” NU Principal Dan Frisella said.
“We’re also opening a couple more service windows, and we’ve made some renovations to our Ali foyer, making it a service station, and we brought on some additional cafeteria staff to help with what’s going to be more traffic.”
At a Nevada Joint Union School District board meeting in June, Frisella announced that NU would be a closed campus, which would prevent students from going off campus during lunch.
According to Frisella, the change in policy came after community members had reported misconduct, such as theft and substance abuse, by NU students who go off campus during lunch and regular school hours.
“There’s a logical disconnect,” NU senior Kierra Newton said. “A closed campus is not going to be much of a deterrent for either of the offenses, theft or drug use. It seems ridiculous that there seems to be some expectation that the result of this edict being passed down will be that the students doing drugs or stealing are just going to say, ‘Gosh darn it, foiled again!’ and stop immediately.”
Frisella, though, says students that do go off campus will be punished as though they were cutting class, getting two hours detention for the first offense, and a progressively harsher punishment for chronic offenders. The school will have a total of three security guards on the lookout for students trying to leave during school hours.
“In some cases, it’s hard to anticipate everything, but our administration’s going to be out and about during lunch and we’re going to be encouraging teachers to take walks and keep their doors open, so that there will be more eyes and ears out there,” Frisella said.
In order to serve all students during the school’s 45-minute lunch period, district Food Service Coordinator Theresa Ruiz says the school has put more money into buying more local and fresh foods.
“We’re hoping the kids will want to buy the food,” Ruiz said. “The idea is we put out a good product and that the kids are interested in buying it, and that they’re happy to eat here.”
Ruiz worked as food service manager for Bear River High School for 15 years, and says planning meals for Bear River, which has had a closed campus policy for years, was good experience for her to bring to NU.
Ruiz says NU will be doubling the number of food service lines, and has also hired a more than 10-person staff to help cook and man each service station.
According to district Assistant Superintendent Karen Suenram, NU has also partnered with local businesses to bring a wider selection of food into the high school for students to choose from.
“We got a $14,000 grant through Sierra Harvest to buy a salad bar,” Suenram said. “We’ll be experimenting with an independent salad bar unit, so it will be separate from the regular service lines, and it will be an entire meal because there will be protein available, and bread type items, in addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Suenram says Sierra Harvest Treasurer and Chair of Finance Committee member Carlos Trujillo, as a paid contractor, has helped the school reach out to local farms and produce providers. NU will also be receiving food products from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at discounted prices.
“But we’re trying to buy everything locally, using local vendors, it supports our local community,” Suenram said. “The local fruits and vegetables are going to be better quality because they’re going to be fresher.”
Suenram said the school will also be experimenting with reusable plastic baskets that school lunches will be served in, to cut down on waste and expenses. NU will also have two new water bottle stations in the Ali and West gyms, to compliment the bottle station already installed in the cafeteria.
Ruiz said BriarPatch Co-op has helped NU by providing the school with a template to purchase local produce, “as opposed to calling a produce company and just ordering it, you’re getting different items from different people. They helped us with that, and gave us some good information on how to implement it and work with those growers who might be able to help us out with what we need.”
Frisella said they will be bringing in food trucks now and then, and sushi from a local restaurant. NU will be purchasing their pizza dough and bread rolls from the Truckee Sourdough Company, also offering hot soups, baked potatoes and grilled sandwiches during the colder times of the year.
“I think we have a pretty good base here, entrees and items that the kids will like,” Ruiz said. “It’ll kind of be a guessing game for a little bit, part of that will be what happens with the food and word of mouth, if the kids like the food, they’ll start eating it. Hopefully until they forget that they can’t leave campus.”
Frisella said he will be implementing a lunch walk for parents and community members who want to meet with him and see the school and campus in action.
“Hopefully, it’s a new feeling and new energy for the school,” Frisella said. “A lot of the feedback I’ve gotten is people are trying to find a way to get on campus, and there’s stuff like fingerprinting and volunteering that can be laborious. But the easiest way for me to get them on campus is to take a walk with me at lunch.”
For more information, call Nevada Union High School at 530-273-4431.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236. Staff Writer Maya Anderman contributed to this report.