Lunch and learnTracy Danovsky will bring out the beards today. When the “Duck Dynasty” Club meets for the first time in her room at Superior High School, the business and marketing instructor plans to have facial hair on hand for anyone who wants to wear it while watching the first episode of the popular A&E show. Meanwhile, dice should be rolling in Mike Weinandt’s science room as students in the role playing game club enter the world of imagination.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Tracy Danovsky will bring out the beards today. When the “Duck Dynasty” Club meets for the first time in her room at Superior High School, the business and marketing instructor plans to have facial hair on hand for anyone who wants to wear it while watching the first episode of the popular A&E show. Meanwhile, dice should be rolling in Mike Weinandt’s science room as students in the role playing game club enter the world of imagination. The engineering club may begin to design a rocket or T-shirt gun; musicians will blend harmonies in the jazz club and language arts teacher Andy Wolfe hopes interested writers and cartoonists stop by to contribute to the newspaper club.
Welcome to the new face of lunch at Superior High School. Called lunch and learn, the program provides outlets for the school’s nearly 1,400 students to explore activities or get an extra tutoring boost during lunch hour three days a week.
“I really like it. I think it’s a great program,” said junior Johnathan Erickson as he walked down the hall to the band room with his lunch Wednesday. “I like that I have time to be able to study or work on whatever I need to get done during this time.” Erickson, who plays the vibraphone, spent his first two lunch and learn days with the jazz club.
The driving force behind lunch and learn is to connect kids to school and give them academic support, according to Principal Kent Bergum.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Danovsky said. “Right away we were talking about the ‘Duck Dynasty,’ kids that maybe haven’t been involved in other things were really excited about coming in and that was the point of it.
“I think if you have a connection with somebody here, even if it’s something fun and goofy like that, I think they’re more apt to come to school and then do better and fare better overall,” Danovsky said.
Teachers offered to helm clubs that run the gamut from knitting and fantasy football to fly tying and rock band jam sessions. Activities Director Ray Kosey said he was surprised at the diverse list.
“We have some very unique interests with staff and it will meet the needs of students,” he said.
One of the most popular sites Wednesday was the role playing club, where it was standing room only.
“I didn’t expect this, but it’s awesome,” said freshman Naomi Lear. “It’s so cool especially since they’re all people with similar interests.”
The program was modeled after one at Chippewa Falls Senior High School that is now in its sixth year.
“To a person, people would tell you it’s one of the best things we’ve done,” said high school Principal Becky Davis.
Although the school of more than 1,400 students has a low truancy rate, it’s been steadily improving since lunch and learn was introduced, Davis said. And it has opened up opportunities for the music and art department, tech labs and work groups at Chippewa Falls Senior High School.
“It opens up an enormous window for students and staff to work together,” Davis said.
Like SHS, Chippewa Falls made the move from three lunch periods to two, and opened the school up to students on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to attend clubs, use the library or get academic help. Kids stepped up to the responsibility, Davis said. Although students bring food throughout the school, it was cleaner than before.
The new, compressed lunch schedule has been a change for SHS students, who just started attending clubs this week. Prior to that, the second half-hour was spent in their advisory class, which they will continue to attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“It’s a big adjustment,” said sophomore Trent Sikorski, but “It feels like a more efficient way for students.” Students don’t have to go to clubs. They can work on homework assignments, get more help from a teacher or just relax and watch the intramural sports club in the gym.
“We have high-flying kids taking AP classes who need that extra half hour to study,” Kosey said. “Hopefully it meets the individual needs of every learner we have.”
After the first grading period ends in November, students who are failing a class will no longer be able to go to the clubs. Instead, they will spend that time in guided study aimed at improving their grade.
One of the reasons grades dip is poor attendance, Bergum said. According to the school’s state report card, SHS had an absenteeism rate of nearly 12 percent in the 2012-2013 school year. Lunch and learn is aimed at giving kids another reason to come to school, another way to feel valued, the principal said.
“We want all kids to be successful,” he said.