Students, community adjust to “Pay and Go” lunch policy


Photo by Seyun Park

Georgetown Square sits mostly abandoned during the lunch hour on May 8. Since the implementation of Pay and Go, students have returned to campus afer purchasing lunch.

On Monday, May 1, WJ implemented “Pay and Go” open lunch, prohibiting students from staying and eating at local businesses in Georgetown Square and Wildwood Shopping Center due to the students’ daily “invasion” and “havoc.”
In the three weeks since the policy has gone into effect, many students have changed their daily lunch habits. Students that once at the tables at Georgetown Square are now returning back to the school campus, leaving the square almost deserted at times.
“I think it’s a really good compromise considering the circumstances and the things people have been doing … I don’t go out of the building for lunch too much, but when I do, my friends and I don’t hang around too much and just come back. I think the results of it are clear: when I go, it’s a lot less crowded,” sophomore Riley Berkowitz said.
Other students have raised concerns about the long-term feasibility of the policy.
“There are so many students at WJ, a lot of them participate in open lunch, and it’s gonna be really hard to control it,” class of 2024 President junior Erin Kim said.
The policy originally stemmed from rising incidents of violence, theft and general unruliness from students in local businesses during lunch. Since the implementation of the policy, security officers and local police have noticed a significant drop in such incidents.
With the success of the policy so far, the administration intends to keep the policy in place for the foreseeable future. Although earlier the idea of limiting open lunch to only upperclassmen had been raised, it seems that “Pay & Go” will be continued in the 23-24 school year.
“We have gone around and we have talked to all the businesses, they’re really, really happy with the way things are working, and to be frank, I am very, very happy with how the students are handling this … we’re gonna talk about the whole policy over the summer, but I think it’s been such a part of our tradition, it’s really part of our school, I think it shows we trust students,” Principal Jennifer Baker said.