GREENVILLE — There have been many changes made to Greenville Public Schools during the 2012-2013 school year, from a new athletic facility to parking lot changes.
Along with those changes came an upgrade to the high school cafeteria, including a new student-picked design, a commons area and new food choices.
Because of the changes, the Greenville High School campus is now closed during lunch.
“The concept of a closed campus has been a vision that was, until this construction project, not feasible,” Superintendent Pete Haines said. “For many years, we have had concerns over the dangers related to an open campus.”
Throughout the years, Greenville High School has received complaints from neighbors about students at lunch time along with concerns from the school about student safety as young drivers. Another problem has been students littering not only Greenville’s campus, but that of surrounding areas.
“It’s unfortunate that the behavior of a few have made management of an open campus nearly impossible,” Haines said.
Assistant Principal Todd Oatley said over the years, the main challenge of closing campus was trying to seat nearly 600 students at one time — two times a day. Last year, the school tried three lunches — seating 400 students at a time. However, the idea was not academically sound.
“We knew that with the new expansion of the cafeteria and the addition of the newly constructed student commons, we could handle going back to two lunches and seat everyone,” Oatley said.
Linda Thompson, co-owner of Mr. T’s on the corner of Washington and Hillcrest streets, said although the decision of the school to close its campus was a shock, the decision will affect the business slightly, but it is still something they can handle.
“We will just have adjust as we have done in the past,” said Thompson, who has owned the business for 23 years.
During the beginning of the school year is when Thompson said she sees the most students — between 45 and 50 students a day.
Nearby Dairy Queen co-owner Bill Phillips said there is not a lot that can be done about the school closing its campus.
“It will be interesting to see what happens,” said Phillips, adding he won’t know how the closed-campus lunches will affect his business until it happens.
Oatley said Greenville High School’s closed-campus lunch is scheduled to begin at the end of this week.