Considering Power Lunch

FHSD is looking into a new schedule to improve academics and lower stress levels


Natalie Walsh

Students at Olathe East High School, located just outside Kansas City, Mo., congregate during their expanded lunch time. Students, teachers and administrators visited Olathe East in late February to observe and ask questions of people there about the power lunch they have instituted the last couple years.

Rushing into the school parking lot and running through the doors to beat the bell for first hour is common amongst students in the Francis Howell School District. Getting to class with a minute to spare, students are greeted with lectures, notes and rigorous homework due the next day. From bell to bell, students face class after class with no break (except for lunch and seminar once a week), only to go home to piles of homework that students have to find time to complete between their sports practices and work hours. With no time for sleep, family interaction or relaxation, students never get a chance to destress. 

The school district heard these cries for help and searched for a solution to give students more time to relax at home while still furthering their education and preventing mental breakdowns along the way.

One solution stood out more than the others: a power lunch. 

For lack of a better name, this “power lunch” consists of changing the school schedule to incorporate 50 minutes of combined lunch and study time into the day. This change would shorten each class by four minutes. Every day of the week would go from first through fourth hour to the 50 minute lunch shift for every student, then ending with fifth through seventh hour. This, of course, is with the exception of Wednesdays which would remain exactly as they are today: three lunch shifts breaking up fourth and fifth hour.

At first glance, the power lunch sounds chaotic. Every student will have the same lunch period at this time and will be allowed to sit in the cafeteria, hallways, L.C., classrooms and benches that are planned to be installed where empty lockers are currently. Our school hopes that this plan will help students academically, mentally, and socially.


Power lunch has several benefits for students and teachers alike. Students like that they have time to eat, socialize, and study if they need to. Teachers like that they can help their students and appreciate the break in the day. Digital Medial Arts teacher at Olathe North, Mr. Jeff Swift, helps his students see the benefits of power lunch when it comes to tedious projects that take longer to finish.

“Sometimes kids can’t get as far as they’d like to on a project… sometimes kids run into trouble and they get frustrated and I just remind them, ‘hey, you an always come in [during power lunch] and then you have me one on one’,” Mr. Swift said.

Teachers also have the ability to take time to themselves when they feel overwhelmed with students. Mrs. Heather Smith, Assistant Principal at Olathe North, spoke on what options teachers have during this time.

“We allow our teachers to do what they want. I think there are a couple of [teachers] that take 25 minutes to eat with their department or friends,” Mrs. Smith recalls. “And we have some that keep their classroom open the whole time… it’s going to be up to [the teachers].”

Teachers have also seen benefits in their students. According to a survey conducted at Olathe North, 81.10% of teachers have seen a decrease in the amount of D’s and F’s in their students due to power lunch. 

Students also feel that they have a decrease in stress levels due to power lunch. According to a survey conducted at Olathe North, 96.72% of students feel their stress levels decreased after implementing power lunch.


For the idea of power lunch to exist, it must come at some costs. The biggest concern that an education system has is the education of their students. Shortening classes to make time for a power lunch would mean shortening lectures from teachers and lessening educational opportunity. According to the power lunch schedule that FHSD is considering, classes would be shortened by about four minutes each.

On the other hand, teachers at Olathe North who also made this adjustment say they don’t notice a difference in class time and that they haven’t had to make any adjustments to the shorter class period. Mrs. Margarita Alcantara, mathematics teacher at Olathe North, says this difference in time is not noticeable.

“I don’t feel like it’s that much,” Mrs. Alcantara said. “I don’t feel like it’s too much that I have to shorten tests so I think I can still get stuff done; plus, since you have 50 minutes during the day, you can still catch up on other things.”

Mr. Pence makes the most of his class time by being better prepared for each hour. 

“I just make sure that when the bell rings, I;m ready to go with instruction and I’ll save taking role till the middle of class when kids are busy working,” Mr. Pence said. “That helps me get those minutes back.”