- Parma City School District
Lunch Club at Parma Senior High helps students with more than just homework
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.”