(Updated at 15:55) At 10 a.m. today, students at Alexandria City High School lined up from their classrooms into the square behind the school to protest the cancellation of the school’s popular lunchtime program.
For a while, students were able to use the lunch block to meet clubs and teachers in a program called Lunch and Learn. This was later given a more formal structure and redone more safely in a program called Titan Ranch, but that program was never introduced.
Earlier this week, ACHS Principal Peter Ballas said after meeting with the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Senior Leadership Team, there will be no Titan Ranch this year.
In an email to the community, Barras said logistics and safety concerns were at the core of why the program was canceled for the current school year.
“You may remember last fall when we promised to share an update after the winter break and provide the next steps in the process,” writes Balas. “In my previous message, I emphasized that the final plan should address all safety and security concerns, in addition to logistical and operational challenges, but at the same time, I would like to give students the opportunity to make choices during lunch. We were also able to deliver, which is a big challenge to overcome given the large number of students.”
Barras said “as we know it” the program will not be reinstated for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“Despite our best efforts, we are still working with many factors and considerations to successfully bring back the Titan Ranch period this year,” Barras wrote. As we know, Titan Ranch cannot be revived for the 2022-23 school year.Next semester, we will find ways to support our students with a focus on academics, well-being and student life.”
ACHS students told ALXnow that Lunch and Learn allowed students to join clubs, get support from teachers and give them time to visit counselors. The program allowed students to use their lunch breaks for these activities when they might not be able to use these resources after school, such as sports or work.
James Libresco, ACHS 2025 Class President, said:
Lunch and learning is a very important issue for students as they can join clubs, receive academic support from teachers, use the College & Career Center, and receive emotional support from counselors. was. And best of all, equality for all students to participate in these school activities and fulfillment, even those who have responsibilities like going to sports practice after school, working, or taking care of their families. and allowed fair access. This has never been possible before.
Titan Ranch incorporates these aspects, adding more safety-focused surveillance, limiting some of the openness from Ranch and Raan, and making it more like access to Chinkapin Fields. At lunch, students were required to report directly to their location and check-in through an internal system so that administrators could track them.
Libresco said Titan Ranch’s strategic security plan includes placing security personnel and administrators in key locations to prevent students from roaming the halls or entering “no-go” areas. It was
— James Libresco (@james_libresco) January 24, 2023
— Yahney Marie Sangare (@yahneymarie) January 24, 2023
Student newspaper Theogony covered the topic, reporting that Titan Lunch plans hit a wall when they were not approved by Interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt.
A committee of 25 students called the Student Lunch Committee worked on the Titan Lunch program as a compromise. The Student Lunch Committee issued a statement expressing frustration at appearing to be obstructed by headquarters. Libresco said that while Ballas was supportive of and engaged in conversation with the students, the school had trouble discussing plans with the central office, especially Kay Wyatt, who had not met with the committee.
A Change.org petition calling specifically for Kay Wyatt to bring back Lunch and Learn has 1,346 signatures at the time of writing.
In a statement posted to social media, the committee said, “This is no longer just a Titan Ranch issue.” It’s about being grossly neglected by the Central Office, this is about the Central Office leaving nothing to the principals and administrators who know our school so well.”
In an email to the community, Balas said discussions about lunchtime activities are likely to continue.
In our ongoing discussions with students and staff about the reopening of this period, we have heard many perspectives and advocates for adjusting this period in our schedules for the rest of the year. I want you to. In our role as leaders, it is always difficult to balance the safety of everyone in the building with the choice of students and staff. It’s one of those times when you have to make tough decisions to make sure your environment is well prepared to serve.
We understand that you may still have questions about this decision and may be disappointed with this outcome at this time. Rest assured that we will continue to identify ways to incorporate staff voice.