We, as parents of children attending Windermere Elementary School, would like to propose that seating in the WES cafeteria be changed from single directional seating to traditional picnic-table style seating so that the children can face one another. Generally speaking, we support how the school is run and expectations set forth for our children. We have serious concerns, however, with how the cafeteria currently operates. We hope that this petition will open the door for positive communication and immediate action to remedy theses concerns. We would like to propose that cafeteria tables be changed to double-sided seating. This would eliminate two issues that we find very concerning. First, it would allow more children to eat in the cafeteria at once, therefore, eliminating the need for any children to eat too early or too late in the day. Secondly, it would provide the children with the much needed time to socialize and engage with each other, an important daily function of student life and an inherent need of all humans. Both of these issues are very important to us as parents. We would like our children to perform at optimum levels throughout the day and feel that eating too early or too late in the day poses problems with this objective. We also feel that our children work very hard and are, understandably, expected to not socialize while in class but at the same time, feel strongly that our children should be allowed to socialize comfortably during lunch just as most people do. Research shows that children need outlets throughout the day to help them perform better and to reduce the amount of disruption in the classroom. "Lunch is a period for language and social development, and children should be able to choose their seating partners", suggests Lolli Haws, Principle of Oakridge Elementary School in Arlington, VA (educationworld.com). Some studies do emphasize the importance of instituting “seating arrangements”, such as assigned seating, group seating and seating charts in the cafeteria. Documentation also advocates that applying positive behavior modification programs will reduce noise and improve behavior in school cafeterias. Conversely, there is no evidence to support or even suggest that there are any benefits of assigning children to sit faced in one direction during lunch period. The cafeteria will always be the loudest room in an elementary school. The goal is to control the lunchroom while still giving our students the freedom to enjoy their lunch break which, currently they do not. With no published evidence to support WES's current lunchroom practices, we are submitting this petition to: • Change single directional seating to integrated picnic-table style seating to enable positive social interaction • Restructure the lunch schedule to effectively accommodate the needs of elementary aged children to 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. • Implement a Behavior Modification System that rewards students rather than discourages them during the lunch period Sources : educationworld.com, Watertown City School District (Ohio), eHow.com, National Education Foundation, National Center on Instructional Materials, direct.gov.uk, Florida State University Department of Education - "Managing Cafeteria Behavior" (http://www.fsu.edu/~truancy/cafeteria.html).