Power Lunch offers options to students
By Amelia Harper
Thursday, February 16, 2017
TARBORO — Patillo Middle School is one of a handful of schools in Edgecombe County that are experimenting with a new “Power Lunch” initiative as a way to help students take more ownership of their own educational experiences.
The 80-minute segment in the middle of the day allows sixth- to eighth-grade students to have an opportunity to eat lunch, become involved in private or small group tutoring sessions and explore a wide variety of enrichment opportunities that the students select, said Lauren Lampron, principal of Patillo Middle School.
“One of the really cool things about this is that the clubs have students from all the grade levels working together,” Lampron said. “These clubs are intentionally designed to increase team-building and help kids in different grades get to know one another.”
Lampron said she and other administrators heard about the Power Lunch concept that was implemented at a school in Johnston County. Lampron went to the school to see the initiative in action and then adapted the concept to fit Patillo Middle School.The Power Lunch concept is also now being used for select grades at Martin Millennium Academy and is slated to be implemented at North Edgecombe High School on Feb. 20, though the structure and focus of the initiative vary at each school.
Donnell Cannon, principal of North Edgecombe High School, said the Power Lunch he is launching at the high school level will focus primarily on academic needs.
“Our options will be more prescriptive,” Cannon said. “We will be able to use this time to focus on preparation for tests in biology, English II and math I primarily. We will also be holding ACT preparation classes during this time.”
At Patillo Middle School, the initiative seems to going very well, though the details have been tweaked since the beginning of the school year when the concept was introduced. As of now, on Monday through Thursdays, Patillo Middle students have two alternating lunch sessions. During one 30-minute session, they eat lunch. During the other, they attend either tutoring sessions or enrichment clubs covering topics including yoga, art, music, hair care, service projects, reptiles, robotics and computers.
All students are required to attend from two to four tutoring sessions a week during that time,depending on academic need. These sessions are prescribed by the teachers and administration. However, on other days, students sign up for the various clubs offered.On Fridays, sessions switch to two 40-minute Power Lunches and no tutoring is done.
“I don’t think any student should be penalized because they have to attend tutoring sessions. This way, all the students can participate in clubs on Friday,” Lampron said.
Lampron said the club offerings Patillo Middle School change every nine weeks and students then have a chance to explore new clubs. All clubs are student selected and student led, though all clubs also are required to have an adult sponsor. An example of how this works is seen in one of the most popular clubs, the Step Club.
Jaquan Williams, 13, is the stepmaster for the club, and he takes his role seriously.
“It takes a lot of time to get ready for this, so I give up my lunch time on club days,” Williams said.
Another favorite club is the intramural basketball club. Lampron said this club helps fill a need with many students.
“Many students are inhibited from being on the school basketball team because of transportation problems or just because there are not enough slots on the team for everyone. This club gives everyone who wants to a chance to play,” Lampron said.
The Unity Club offers one the best examples of the kind of school culture Lampron is trying to create. During the Unity Club, students on a regular educational tract interact with low-incidence exceptional students who are either wheel-chair bound or find it difficult to communicate.
“This club is amazing,” Lampron said. “No matter what type of student comes in here, they all become more empathetic while working with these students on developing motor skills. They also develop a protective attitude toward these kids. It really does tend to unify the students.”
Lampron said the Power Lunch structure offers an advantage to teachers because they are free during one of the lunch sessions, giving them time to rest and regroup for the remainder of the day. However, she said the students also benefit because they are exploring new concepts and taking ownership of at least part of their school day. As a result, Lampron said she has seen school attendance rates increase since the new initiative began.