At Belmont High School outside Boston, the school slogan this year could be "mind over hunger," or vice versa. A few hundred of the school's 936 students are choosing to give up lunch periods to spend more time in class.
As part of a new schedule that has broken the school day into varying blocks of class time, some eager students are taking more than the required five courses. As a result, they don't have any free periods during lunch time. Students were given a choice of changing their schedules or eating in class or between periods.
"The principal tried to juggle their schedules, but the students wanted them to be left alone," said Patricia A. Aubin, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Belmont, Mass., schools.
More than 300 students miss lunch period at least one day a week. At least a dozen students have to skip the cafeteria three or four days a week.
Some students resent having to eat their lunch in class, Ms. Aubin said, but have been unwilling to adjust their schedules. "Some students are unhappy, but they would be equally unhappy if we changed their schedule at this point," she said.
In an effort to keep school crime down, a new program has ridden onto the scene in the Houston Independent School District. Superintendent Rod Paige announced this month that the district's police force will patrol four of Houston's schools on bicycles.
The schools were chosen by HISD police officers who identified them as needing more security. The four schools will also be used to gauge how well the bike patrols work. "The program's success and its costs will determine how big it becomes to the rest of the district," said Terry Abbott, a spokesman for the HISD. The fully equipped bicycles cost between $800 and $1,200.
Despite a 14 percent decline in violent crime in the past year, Superintendent Paige said the district would not ease its hard-nosed approach to fighting crime.
The 214,000-student district decided on the bikes to offer officers greater mobility and increase their visibility in the schools, some of which have more than one building.
The Houston police department also announced that its officers would patrol near four different HISD schools on bikes. Those officers will have jurisdiction only outside schools; HISD officers are allowed to patrol inside and out.
--KATHLEEN KENNEDY MANZO & KAREN ABERCROMBIE