Cafeteria renovations

It’s 11:50 a.m. on Tuesday. As the bells sound for second lunch to begin, students make beelines for the cafeteria where the friendly staff of lunch ladies wait to help. Today is just like any other with students standing in lines stretching out to the mall area for Mom’s Kitchen. Some wait for the chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes with country gravy while others wait for the pasta of the day. In the other line, a much smaller group of students waits for the nachos, chicken fingers and colossal burgers offered in the a la carte line. Some students wait up to ten minutes to get lunch in the Mom’s kitchen line while those in the a la carte line make their way to lunch tables with trays full of food in a matter of minutes.

Finally, the school lunchroom will receive a face lift this summer to be ready by the 2011-2012 academic school year. The cafeteria has not been renovated since the school first opened to students over 40 years ago.

“We are trying to make this so that students want to be here,” associate principal Tom Moss said.

However, the goal of the administration goes far beyond creating a better lunch time experience for students. Working with anything over ten years old is a difficulty no matter what one is working with, whether it be a computer, car, cell phone, etc. Now imagine working with cooking equipment that has been here since the school opened in 1969.

“We’re putting in all new kitchen equipment. Our ovens are over 40 years old, and we need new ones,” Moss said.

In order to combat the issues with long lunch lines, the administration took extra care in designing the cafeteria to allow an easier flow of students through the lunch line. In a blueprint for the new cafeteria, it is obvious how the new design will benefit students and how it will shorten the time they wait in lines. The four cashiers will be moved from their current positions to be centrally located. The students will then enter from the far right and left sides before paying at one of the four cashiers located in the middle of the kitchen. By doing this, four cashiers will be able to service the hundreds of students who file through one of the two lines in the cafeteria instead of having two for each.

Additional renovations to the cafeteria include: a new sound system with speakers spaced throughout the room instead of surrounding the edges; two large projection screens at the east and west ends along with multimedia projectors to facilitate the many meetings held in the cafeteria; new tiling for the ceiling and the floors; trophy cases to replace the windows looking out on the mall, one of which will hold all of the state championship trophies; permanent cashier stations.

Estimated cost for the project is approximated to be $1.8 million. Funds for the renovations are being provided by capital outlay, or local tax dollars. Northwest and SM West will both receive renovations to their respective cafeterias and are the last of the Shawnee Mission School District high schools to receive such renovations.

Josh Meigs