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Time To Eat

When students at two Wayne County, W.Va., high schools were told that their lunch period would be cut back to accommodate more classes, they took to the streets. Apparently, a little civil unrest can go a long way.

When school officials at Vinson High School cut 15 minutes from the students' 45-minute lunch period, 80 students protested on the sidewalk outside the school, demanding more meal time. After a little negotiation, Principal John Mullens decided last week to rejigger the schedule. Now students who don't have other lunch-period obligations--an appointment with a teacher or a test to make up--will have 50 minutes to munch their lunch.

"I'm satisfied. They're satisfied. Everything is copacetic," Mr. Mullens said.

When the principal at nearby Buffalo High School announced this month that the lunch break would decrease from 50 minutes to 35, students gathered on the lawn shouting, "We want lunch." They said the new schedule would barely give them time to eat. Principal David Bradley, said last week that the reduced lunch break was necessary to squeeze more academic time into the school day, but he decided on a compromise: a 40-minute lunch.

"They want more of the social time, so we'll add five minutes," he said.

Rousted Red

Hawaiian Punch is out. So is cherry soda.

Those drinks are verboten this fall at Miller Elementary School in Dearborn, Mich., but not for nutritional reasons. It's the mess they make on the carpet.

Administrators in the Detroit suburb say stains from red drinks are tougher to clean up than other spills on the gray carpet. The school is new, and they want to keep it looking that way.

So a letter was sent to parents asking them to keep the red out of their children's lunch boxes.

District officials acknowledge that they took a risk carpeting a room where 400 children eat lunch. But the room isn't just a cafeteria, said Margaret Weertz, the communications director for the 15,500-student district. It's also used for concerts, PTA meetings, and other activities. The carpet keeps the noise down and looks good, too.

"The average age of our schools is 52 years," she said. "When you have a new school, it's a wonderful thing."

So it's understandable that the staff might be a little fussy about the carpet. "I would think the taxpayers would be happy that they are so concerned," she said.

--JESSICA PORTNER & STEVEN DRUMMOND

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