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Lunch Club at Parma Senior High helps students with more than just homework

Parma Senior High School May 4, 2020


Parma Senior High School Home Liaison Christopher Petitti started a lunch club this school year after recognizing a need among students‭. ‬

“This really evolved a lot over the year‭,‬”‭ ‬he explained‭. ‬“A few students would come to my office to eat lunch and then it kept growing‭. ‬I was fine with them being in my office‭, ‬but I couldn’t have 15‭ ‬or more students up here‭, ‬so I needed to find another solution‭.‬”

Working with PSH Guidance Counselor Marian Armstrong‭, ‬the school opened up a classroom during fourth‭, ‬fifth and sixth periods‭. ‬

The Parma High Lunch Club wasn’t a planned idea‭, ‬but it caught on quickly and became a place for students to get homework done‭, ‬socialize and take a break during lunch periods‭. ‬

‭‬Petitti was surprised students wanted to come to his office during their lunch‭, ‬instead of the cafeteria‭, ‬but was happy to offer a place for students to meet their needs in the middle of the day‭. ‬

“There were a lot of reasons students wanted an alternative to lunch‭,‬”‭ ‬he shared‭. ‬“Some wanted a place to eat and get work done‭, ‬others didn’t like the cafeteria‭, ‬some said the cafeteria was too noisy‭, ‬but the media center was too quiet‭, ‬and then others found themselves having issues in the cafeteria‭.‬”

Another benefit that has grown from the group was students helping each other out‭. ‬Students could work with each other on things‭ ‬like material covered in their science class or help with a math problem‭. ‬

Petitti‭, ‬who has a background as a school counselor‭, ‬said there are some days when students just want someone or a group to talk‭ ‬to about problems they are facing at school‭. ‬Some topics that have been discussed were respecting others‭, ‬anger and anxiety‭. ‬

On average‭, ‬per lunch period‭, ‬Petitti will see between 4‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬15‭ ‬students‭. ‬The club is open to all students‭.‬

Petitti was also working on making the group more interactive with an idea to have a fantasy football-style game for each period‭ ‬where students could earn points‭. ‬With the school building closing early and transitioning to distance learning‭, ‬this idea wasn’t possible this school year‭.  ‬

“So what this could look like would be if students came to the club‭, ‬they would earn a point‭, ‬if they did homework‭, ‬they earn a point‭, ‬if they show me their grades‭, ‬they would earn points based on their letter grade‭, ‬so‭ ‬‘A’s are worth four points‭, ‬‘B’s three points‭, ‬and if you have behavior issues you would lose points‭,‬”‭ ‬he described‭. ‬“So‭, ‬I was going to have a competition between periods to see who could earn the most points‭. ‬They all seemed excited to do it‭.‬”‭ ‬

Since the club only started after Winter Break‭, ‬it has been tough to measure progress‭, ‬Petitti shared‭, ‬but he has seen some improvement in student achievement and behavior‭. ‬

“It’s really just a place for students to take a break if they need it during the day and get caught up on work‭,‬”‭ ‬he expressed‭. ‬“For some students‭, ‬they need that‭. ‬And the more I get to know the students‭, ‬the more I can help them‭. ‬It gives me a chance to reach students that I don’t see and to see students in a different light‭, ‬not just when they are in a crisis situation‭.‬”‭ ‬

When school does reopen‭, ‬Petitti would like to continue this opportunity for students‭. ‬This year was a pilot year to see what works and what the club could be like in the future‭. ‬

“Maybe next year there are some more opportunities to discuss mental health topics‭, ‬explore some themes that students need help with‭, ‬or just focus on the social-emotional needs of the students‭,‬”‭ ‬he shared‭. ‬“I would also like to work more with teaches to find students who might benefit from a group like this‭.‬”

“It really gives me a great chance to build relationships with students‭,‬”‭ ‬Petitti added‭. ‬“Ultimately that’s what we all do here‭.‬”