Photo Credit: used with permission by Colonia High School
Diverse opinions on the effectiveness of STAC lunch
March 16, 2020
Last year Colonia High School piloted a new class schedule called Smart Lunch which deducted 5-10 minutes from each block class and gave students a study hall period before or after lunch. Normally there are 3 lunch sessions, but during Smart Lunch there is one bulk lunch for seniors and juniors and another bulk lunch for sophomores and freshmen. To accommodate this many students eating lunch at the same time, students were permitted to eat in the café, front lobby or the media center.
Smart Lunch came with some problems such as: only tutoring AP students, not knowing where students were, not being able to get your lunch quick enough and some chaos. Hearing students and teachers complaints about the revised schedule, the Administration and the school’s SCIP team worked with some students to revise Smart Lunch. The end result is STAC (Student Tutoring and Clubs) lunch. With a few days of STAC lunch trials under their belts, students and staff have mixed reviews of the new pilot.
STAC Lunch: What are the Pros?
STAC lunch is the new alternative to the previous year’s SMART lunch, and there are pros and cons to this new lunch. Even though this lunch isn’t loved by many, their are many pros to STAC lunch.
STAC Lunch: the Background
Last year, SMART lunch allowed for AP students to meet with teachers. However, this year’s lunch focuses on tutoring students who are failing their classes. This lunch idea is a partnership with National Honor Society members to be the tutors every Tuesday and Thursday, which is when it happens. This idea is known as peer tutoring. The benefits of peer tutoring has been written about, and the NEA writes that, “when students participated in the role of reading tutor, improvements in reading achievement occurred… students benefited from peer tutoring in some way, but same-age tutors were as effective as cross-age tutors.” So peer tutoring is clearly effective, but no one knows if it will work out for this lunch.
Everyone wants to see how STAC lunch will end up working out. So what are students and teachers alike saying?
STAC lunch was encouraged and introduced as a new version of SMART lunch by the school principal, Mr. Pace. However, two teachers- English teachers Mr. Hutchinson and Mrs. DiChiara- have also had an important part in creating this lunch. As the new adviser of National Honor Society, Mr. Hutchinson has been working on adding new activities to National Honor Society, and STAC lunch is one of them.
Mr. Hutchinson told the Declaration that “the real benefit to STAC lunch is going to be to provide an opportunity for extra help for everybody, but specifically an at-risk population that could possibly avoid failure by having time built into the existing school day to get extra help. It’s hard for anybody to come before and after school, and this eliminates that obstacle. So it’s just one more opportunity for students to be able to improve their achievement, do well and not have to rely on a late bus or a parent/guardian bringing them earlier. So hopefully this will improve achievement and establish this idea of study hall.”
English teacher Mr. Long said on STAC lunch that “it’s a great opportunity for tutoring and for students to be productive.”
What do students think of this new lunch idea? Many students are neutral, but many others seem excited or interested about the new lunch. With NHS students being an integral part of this, it is important to get their thoughts on this.
Junior student Hifza Avais said that “it’s a great opportunity to get all my work done. I’m going to get all my work done.”
Senior student Rachel Sowinski, the president of NHS, says “We have an hour break in the middle of the day, and it’s good that we can tutor students who need it in that hour.” Although STAC lunch is unpopular among some students, many others see it as a great opportunity.
SMART lunch was very controversial last year– many students liked it, but many didn’t, and it was eventually cancelled. STAC lunch will run from February to April, and clubs will have opportunities to meet during this time. Block 1 will run from 7:50 to 9:15, five minutes earlier, Block 2 will run from 9:20 to 10:40, ten minutes earlier, and block 3 will run from 10:45 to 12:05, also ten minutes earlier. Lunch A is for grades 11 and 12, while lunch B is for grades 9 and 10. After that, Block 4 runs from 1:10 to 2:30. At the beginning of this lunch idea, everyone is waiting to see how STAC lunch will shape up.
STAC Lunch: What are the Cons?
STAC lunch is the new and improved SMART lunch. Even though STAC lunch might seem like a good idea right now, the lunch does have some cons.
What is STAC lunch?
STAC lunch stands for Student Tutoring and Clubs. The lunch takes place every Tuesday and Thursday. STAC lunch started on February 27 and will end on April 23. First, STAC lunch’s primary mission is to help students who are struggling in their classes. For instance, the National Honor Society does tutoring sessions throughout STAC lunch.
With STAC lunch, the class times change to make it work. Next, instead of having two lunches throughout the day, there are only two lunches. The lunch schedule is usually A lunch, B lunch, and C lunch. Now with STAC lunch, lunch takes place after block three. The first half of STAC lunch is for juniors and seniors. While the juniors and seniors are eating lunch, the freshmen and sophomores are in homeroom. Then after the twenty-five mark, the freshmen and sophomores eat lunch, while the juniors and seniors are in homeroom. Homeroom after or before STAC lunch is used for a study hall. Students work on their homework or other projects that they have during homeroom.
Throughout the lunches, tutoring takes place for students who are struggling, and some clubs or sports have their meetings during lunch. Even though the lunches are twenty-five minutes each, STAC lunch is approximately an hour in total.
Cons with the lunch portion
Even though STAC lunch seems like a good idea in hindsight, there are some cons to this lunch. For instance, lunch is only twenty-five minutes. Senior Kaycee Latorre also has concerns about the time of lunch. Latorre stated, “I think STAC lunch is too short. I feel like it should be longer because I don’t feel like being rushed in the one break I have during school.”
Next, junior Arya Abdollahi has concerns about the lunch too. Abdollahi stated, “the food is too expensive, and the quality isn’t that good. Also, the lines are too long.” With many students buying lunch, it doesn’t give the students enough time to buy lunch and eat it due to the lunch lines are too long. Also, there are four locations to purchase food, but that doesn’t seem enough. Furthermore, there are three locations to buy food in the cafeteria and one location to buy food in the lobby.
According to Brightthemag.com, “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 20 minutes for lunch, beginning when students sit down with their food, allowing enough time to socialize and finish their meals, but also enough time to notice when they are full.” By the time students buy their lunches and sit down to eat, they are past the twenty-minute mark.
Lastly, last year during SMART lunch, there were a few fights during the lunch portion and the homeroom portion. This caused SMART lunch to end. Even though STAC lunch has a different agenda than SMART lunch, fights are still a concern from some of the students. Senior Robyn Epstein has concerns about fights too. Epstein stated, ” I understand that fights are going to happen, regardless. However, we saw during SMART lunches, more fights occurred, and it’s not fair for the teachers to break up fights when they should be tutoring students.”
Cons with the tutoring
Throughout STAC lunch, there is tutoring throughout both lunches. The seniors from the National Honor Society do the tutoring. If a senior has to tutor the first half lunch, they get to eat in the second half of lunch. With the seniors eating in the second half of lunch, they have to eat with the underclassman or eat in a classroom with other people who tutored the first session. Not having the ability to be eating lunch with your friends can be considered a con because lunch is the only break the students have throughout the school day. Most students would like to enjoy their break with their friends, not by themselves.
Senior Skylar Galvez tutors students in math and science during STAC lunch once a week. When asked what she thought about tutoring in the first session of STAC lunch, she stated, “It’s not fair to be tutoring when we are having our lunch. Helping people is worth it, but the way they are going about it is wrong.”
Also, some students who are being required to be tutored don’t want to be there. Students are told if they don’t show up to tutoring that they can be written up as a cut. Even though some students go to tutoring because they want help and want to improve their skills, some students don’t care about their grades.
STAC lunch from a teacher perceptive
Mr. Hutchinson, who is the director of the National Honor Society, spoke about his concerns when helping to organize STAC lunch. Hutchinson stated, “I think concerns revolve, making it work for everybody. One of the concerns is to make it everybody can benefit from not just people in the club, just not people who want tutoring.”
Hutchinson wanted to make sure everyone was benefiting from STAC lunch, even the faculty.
With STAC lunch still in session, we will see what the future will hold from STAC lunch.