San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Left to right: SMCISD Principal Michelle Darling, Lewisville ISD employees Alece Campbell, Toby Bauter, Shawna Werts, Leigh Ann Mitchell, Eileen Wadie, Pam Flores, Robin Tidmore, Marybeth Coen, Paul Hylemon, and SMCISD employee Layce Matejowsky. PHOTO via SMCISD

STAFF REPORT

Lewisville ISD representatives visited San Marcos last week to learn more about the local high school’s block lunch program.

Under block lunch, the entire population of the high school takes an hour break at the same time. For students this ideally means they eat for half an hour and then study, seek teacher assistance, or engage in edifying extracurricular activities the rest of the time.

Pamela Flores and Andy Plunkett, principals of Killough and Hamon High School, led a group of 13 teachers to observe block lunch in action at San Marcos High School.

Flores and Plunkett were referred to SMHS after one of their colleagues heard a presentation on the subject at a summer conference, where SMHS Principal Michelle Darling, SMHS Student Activities Coordinator Lacye Matejowsky, and SMHS Speech and Debate Coach CJ Odam made a presentation on block lunch to principals and superintendents from around the state.

“The block lunch program is extremely impressive,” said Plunkett after touring SMHS. “We hoped to learn and try to come up with a version that fits our campus.”

The Lewisville group arrived to SMHS the morning of Oct. 13 and was greeted by Darling and Matejowsky. Matejowsky led the group through the basics of the block lunch program and explained the steps she took in building and launching the initiative. Tips were offered based on lessons learned after less than two years of having block lunch at SMHS.

“The key message we wanted to get across was that they had to be okay with student choice and freedom,” Matejowsky said. “Block lunch is designed to give students an hour during the day to practice their time management and decision making skills. Our visitors needed to keep this purpose in mind as they planned each step of implementing their own version of block lunch.”

Following the morning session, the Lewisville group went on a tour of the SMHS before lunch. They split in two groups and toured the campus during the block lunch hour. The visitors were encouraged to speak with students and teachers and ask questions.

“I was so impressed with every single Rattler,” Flores said. “Every single kiddo I spoke to was helpful and so respectful. It was amazing to see kids working together to reach whatever the goal was of their club or interest group. The art kids working on their clay projects were amazing. The dance club was full of energy and did an awesome job. The library was the heart of the school, with so many incredible opportunities for kids.”

The visit ended with a question and answer session before the Lewisville group headed home.

“We will be ready to start our own block lunch in January thanks to all of your input.” Flores said to SMHS students, faculty, and staff. “You are changing lives for kids across the state.”

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