Christine Cook plans her Fridays at Granville High around the Friday Lunch Lounge, hosted by the students in the Journeys II class in room 143.
“I have been coming to the Lunch Lounge for as long as they have been having it, and it’s wonderful,” Cook said last Friday, as the students served salads and chicken Florentine to nearly a dozen teachers over the three lunch periods. “It’s very nice to watch the growth in the students. When they start, they’re not making eye contact, and they’re talking quietly. By the middle of the year, it’s clear they are in charge.”
Teacher Amy Nelson and assistant Wendy Rathbun teach 11 students in the “life skills” class, designed to prepare them for adult life and jobs. The 11 students attend classes as a group and go to art and music together. Four of them attend the BOCES program in Hudson Falls later in the day.
Part of their week always revolves around getting ready for Lunch Lounge.
“This afternoon, we will look at a menu for next week,” Collins said Friday. “Then we will finalize it on Monday and send notes to the teachers. By Wednesday, we will know how many we are serving, and we will put together a grocery list and do the shopping.” Thursday will include prepping the food and cooking takes place Thursday and Friday. The students also prepare food to go for teachers who need that.
Learning new skills
“I like to learn how to cook,” said student Rachelle Manell, who was also active serving and cleaning up afterwards.
The students each get assignments, both during cooking and planning, as well as when guests come in and during cleanup afterward.
Second-year Principal Jim Donnelly says the lunch session adds an important part to students’ education.
“The Friday Lunch Lounge run by Amy Nelson’s students is a tremendous opportunity for students to use and demonstrate those skills they will use in the workforce and throughout their lives,” he said.
When teachers were paying for their meals, either Nelson or Rathbun were there with the students counting out the money.
“At the end of the year, they will be doing that by themselves,” Nelson said.
“I look forward to this all summer,” said teacher Marie Grimke. “These guys are just awesome.”
Some teachers come down with their own lunches, just to sit and talk to the other teachers and the students.
“Our students don’t get to see a lot of these other teachers,” Nelson said. “This is great for teachers to get to know them and for them to get to know the teachers. They like to interact with the teachers.”
Between seatings, the students sat at a round table, working on food-related math worksheets.
“They know they need to do their work,” Nelson said. “They are used to having other people here.”
Student teacher Mag Abbott was attending her first Lunch Lounge.
“This is such a great thing,” she said. “Every school should do something like this.”