By Dave Topp
Most high school students look forward to their lunch period. A break from books and teachers, plus a good meal, is welcomed by many. That is unless you're new and you don't know anyone; then lunch time can be worrisome.
Severna Park High School seniors Peyton Brack and Bailey Kinsey remember this feeling all too well, so they decided to do something.
“My freshman year, I was new to high school, I had nobody to sit with. Everybody knew each other already from middle school [and] I had nobody to sit with,” said Brack.
As a part of the Signature Program and its Leadership Institute, Brack and Kinsey created the SPHS Dines Together program, connecting students with other students during their lunch periods.
Based loosely around the “We Dine Together” movement out of Deerfield Beach, Florida, the program allowed Brack and Kinsey to make more students feel welcomed at school.
The project ran from October through the end of the school semester in December. "We took our own spinoff of it and partnered with S2SP (Students to Severna Park club), who could mentor us through the process," Kinsey said.
The Students to Severna Park club assists new students, often from military families, in adjusting to life once enrolled at Severna Park High School.
“For that project I wanted to get rid of that feeling at our school, so I teamed up with the Students to Students program,” Brack said. “I remember feeling that. Not knowing anybody. Coming to Severna Park was a huge change.”
A table was reserved for Brack and Kinsey, along with seven Leadership 1 students (a title often reserved for students in their first year of the Signature Program and Leadership Institute), to invite students to join them and meet new people during lunch.
Along with the help from S2SP adviser Shira Levy and Leadership advisor Elizabeth Colon, students posted fliers throughout the school to encourage attendance during the different lunch breaks each day.
“We always just made it known that this table was here and that's always an option,” Kinsey said. “We'll always be here every lunch and it's always an option for you to come and join.”
While the Leadership program is over for Brack and Kinsey, each of the students expressed hope that the SPHS Dines Together program will continue. S2SP will take the lead for now until future Leadership 3 students (seniors in their third year of the Leadership program) decide they want to take over.
Brack and Kinsey ended the program with a pizza party to thank everyone who attended and helped throughout the project.
“It was kind of cool to see everyone blend together and see friendships being made in front of us,” added Kinsey.