A new college-like atmosphere in the Hayes High School cafeteria is offering students more flexibility in their schedules as well as an expanded selection of food.
Principal Ric Stranges said he wanted students to have more time for intervention during their lunch hour.
Students now have 30 minutes for lunch and 30 minutes for intervention or study hall each day.
In an effort to reduce the number of lunch periods held each day, the main commons area has been renovated to include more space for students, and the auxiliary gym has been turned into what's being called a "food court."
Sally Rathje, district director of food service, said the first two days of school last week were hectic as students got used to the new flow.
"Students weren't used to having two areas they could go to for lunch, so they were trying to figure out where to go," she said.
In order to expedite service, two additional serving lines were added, coming together into one checkout line. Many of the serving areas are self-service, which also moves the line along more quickly.
"From the feedback we've received from students, they really don't want to wait in long lines," Rathje said.
"So what we've done is create what we call a scatter system. The scatter system allows them to come in and get their food from the various different areas without having to wait in one long line to enter."
Students can select food from a salad bar or grab sandwiches, pizza or soup from stations.
"Because we have had to limit the amount of sodium in our foods and because students love spice, we have a spice bar that has no-sodium spices," Rathje said.
New this year is a panini bar, where students can pick up freshly grilled pepperoni, ham or turkey paninis.
"Next year, we are hoping to offer a gyro at the panini bar, since students keep asking for them," she said.
Pacer Place serves international flavors on a rotating basis, including stir-fry, burritos, taco salad or pasta.
"There are a lot of choices at Hayes, from hamburgers and chicken to gluten-free options," Rathje said.
"We try to keep up with trends and don't serve food students consistently tell us they don't like," she said.
She said students will get used to choosing between the food court and the commons at lunch, and added she is looking forward to lunchtime going more smoothly.
"We're still getting used to the changes, but we believe we're offering students the service and the food they want," she said.