Lunch time at Grady: the nooks and crannies across campus


Lanier Pickren

Students sit under the E Hall stairwell during the second lunch period. Not all students eat in the cafeteria. Many eat outside or use the time to prepare for class in the hallways, outside or the library.

Everyone is checking their phones, their watches, and the ticking clock on the wall. Papers are shuffled into untidy piles, backpacks rustle, and chairs squeak. The bell has not even sounded, and the people are on their feet. Two minutes later, they are hastily moving toward the door. For seven minutes, the campus is a bee colony with swarms of students moving around. Then, it settles and the students find their respective corners of the school to have lunch.  

Occupying even the smallest crevices of the school, students can be found having lunch under the staircases. Here, there is less noise and fewer people. But, one group of people convene to play video games. It started with a couple of friends, but more and more people come to play “Mario Kart” and “Smash!” with fellow gamers.

Only a few yards away, there is lots of noise and there are lots of people. The long tables are filled and students make a lunch line that snakes down one side of the room and ends at an array of food. This is the cafeteria. But, people don’t sit in here because of the enjoyable environment. They sit here because it is where their friends sit, inherently creating a paradox.  

Even if it is hot, crowded, loud, and messy, freshmen recognize the difference between the Grady cafeteria and the one at Inman Middle School.

“It’s a lot of people, so I can talk to them and go wherever I want,” said freshman Brandon Buxton.

Others appreciate the microwave that is readily available. Freshman Hannah Doherty said that some of the funniest moments at lunch are when kids mess up their food in the microwave.  

As some bask in the freedom of the cafeteria, others take advantage of the other areas that Grady opens up for lunch. The lobby of the Murray Auditorium has rows of tables next to the windows. People fill the seats and the walls. Sometimes, students play the piano and the sounds of John Lennon’s “Imagine” fill the room and occasionally a couple of students play guitar in the corner. The difference in atmosphere between this space and the cafeteria is the vibe.

“Kids go from table to table and stand,” said Doherty. “There is more movement.”

Outside, the courtyard is a favored place by all classes. On a beautiful day, the red tables are filled with students, but even so, it is less cramped and not as noisy. It seems that on a warm and sunny day, most would prefer to sit in the courtyard. Doherty said that it is the best place for lunch in the entire school.

“It’s calmer and more enjoyable,” said Doherty. “It’s nice to be outside after being cooped up all day in a classroom.”

Only a small number of yards away is a completely different world. Freshman Leighton Baker calls this place “Senior Hill.” Many freshmen find the prospect of “Senior Hill” daunting. Baker, however, is not at all intimidated and has spent multiple lunch periods there.

“We just wanted to be different,” Baker said. “If you can sit on top of the Senior Hill and the seniors can’t move you, you’re kind of like, legendary!”

“Senior Hill” is conveniently placed close to the trailers, the entry to the E Halls, and the Entry to the C Halls. It is comprised mostly of seniors. Baker theorizes that the hill is supposed to symbolize a hierarchy where you have you work your way up. But for Baker, the hill is just a nice place for lunch.  

“One day we just kind of waltzed over and sat on the bench and just sat there,” Baker said. “We just kind of [thought] ‘Hey! This looks like a nice place to sit!”

The other fraction of the school that is heavily populated during lunch hours is the library. According to one of the librarians, Mr. Brian Montero, even though eating is not allowed, students spend their time in other constructive ways such as studying, getting work done, checking their emails, reading, or simply sitting quietly. One freshman spends her lunchtime helping Ms. Taft shelve books. Montero is in charge of handing out 50 library passes per lunch period to those who want to come in.

“Most, when they come in, stay in,” Montero said. “They just come in first thing and stay the whole time.”

At Grady, there are at least a dozen places where people can spend lunch and do more than just eat. For many freshmen, this freedom is one of the perks of being in high school.

“It’s way more free and more fun!” says Buxton.