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Near-Fight At Bethesda Shopping Center Has Principal Contemplating Open Lunch Policy

By Aaron Kraut

Monday - 2/11/2013, 12:30pm  ET

 

A near-fight that had police rushing to a courtyard of the Georgetown Square shopping center on Friday has the principal of nearby Walter Johnson High School contemplating the school’s open lunch policy.

Police were called to the area around 11 a.m. on Friday by an employee of the DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse who said she saw about 40 kids who were about start what she described as a gang fight.

Police converged and prevented any fighting, said Walter Johnson principal Jennifer Baker, who said the incident involved fewer than five students and was stirred by social media activity over the previous two days. Baker said many more students, having heard about it via social media, rushed out to watch.

Walter Johnson students regularly leave school grounds to eat at Subway, Chipotle, Flippin’ Pizza and others at the shopping center, located at 10400 Old Georgetown Rd.

Friday’s incident was the latest in a series of disruptions at Georgetown Square during the 2012-2013 school year, which Baker said the administration was taking seriously. Baker reminded students they’re lucky to be so close to Georgetown Square.

“I just reminded students that open lunch is a privilege. The only reason that Walter Johnson has the option is our proximity to Georgetown Square and we are guests there,” Baker said. “They need to behave responsibly to be able to use that space.

“In general, the kids here don’t want to be represented that way. That’s not the culture here,” Baker said. “People are not always in favor of open lunch. Sometimes kids don’t treat the neighbors with respect and that’s important to me and it’s important that students learn to be responsible members of the community.”

Baker said she couldn’t discuss the specific punishments handed out to the students involved in stirring up Friday’s incident, but that consequences generally involve a loss of open lunch privileges and any other standard actions that come after fighting of any sort.

“I do take these things really seriously,” Baker said. “Most of the students understand it and don’t want to destroy the reputation of the school and how we’re viewed by the community.”