The lunch period at Grove City High School has become more than just time to enjoy a meal with friends.
“It’s something different every day,” sophomore Topenga Sweetapple said of “Lunch and Learn.”
The program started at the beginning of the school year, and it’s 75 minutes dedicated to lunch and any number of activities and academics, said Principal Dr. Rae Lin Howard.
“We’re just really trying to connect kids to resources,” she said.
Howard made a loop around the building on Wednesday during lunchtime, pointing out groups of students getting homework help, spending time in the chemistry lab, studying in the library and working on art projects.
The students spend the first half hour eating lunch, which they can take outside of the cafeteria. The remaining 45 minutes are reserved for the “learn” part of the program.
There are typically 25 different things on the list each day. Wednesday’s offerings included ping-pong, ukelele lessons, open art studio, study hall, creative writing club, weight room, robotics and Spanish Club.
Quiet study halls are available each day. Students can also get help with test prep and tutoring, Howard said, adding that “Lunch and Learn” is also a good time for clubs and organizations to meet.
Topenga, 16, uses that time to work with the Life Skills students. On Wednesday, she was getting ready to lead the Eagle Friends Book Club; they were planning to discuss “Out of My Mind,” a book about a girl with cerebral palsy written by Sharon M. Draper.
“Lunch and Learn” took some getting used to, but the students have been doing great, Howard said.
It’s teaching them time management skills, and they’ve been sharing ideas for more activities.
The high school has two art studios, where some students were eating lunch together and working on projects like posters for the Interact Club.
Sophomore Olivia Persic, 16, was painting a portrait based on a photo of herself and her cousin.
She’s been working on it for about two months in Chris Bauer’s classroom, and she appreciates having extra time during the school day.
Hannah Boesch was working nearby on some spin art, using a large machine and paint to create a design on canvas.
She’s making two pieces that will be displayed at the home of Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joshua Weaver.
Hannah, 16, a sophomore, likes having extra time to work on those kinds of projects.
“I wish we had more time. It’s great,” she said.
In Amanda DiAlesandro’s classroom, freshman Emily Stutzman, 15, was working on a ceramic mug.
When she first heard about “Lunch and Learn,” she was a bit uncertain about how it would work.
She’s come to love it and has gotten help with homework, and she enjoys hanging out with her friends.
Emily suggested to Howard that the school offer more academic courses during “Lunch and Learn” so students could determine if a new subject matter is something they’d want to pursue.
In the chemistry lab, an honors class was experimenting with hydrated copper sulfate.
On the classroom wall and just outside the door were QR codes that students scan when they arrive and when they leave.
They can use their cell phone, or the iPad located in each classroom. The codes are also used for restroom visits, and they help keep track of students’ whereabouts, which is helpful if they need to be located quickly, Howard said.
As Howard wrapped up her tour of the school, she said that she plans on buying more furniture for the common areas and collecting more input from students.
“They love to be treated like young adults,” she said.