Ashland High School's Lunch Bunch fights against bullying

Ashland High School's Lunch Bunch fights against bullying
Malia is a member of the Lunch Bunch. (Source: WOIO)
Malia is a member of the Lunch Bunch. (Source: WOIO)

ASHLAND, OH (WOIO) - When you think of a lunch bunch, what comes to mind?

Well, over at Ashland High School, students say breaking bread together is their favorite time of day. But why?

In a word, friendship. Meeting and greeting is what they do to fight bullying.

They call Lunch Bunch their favorite subject. Chuck Benway teaches chemistry and physics at the school.

"Lunch Bunch is actually a collection of a lot of things. One is to help encourage good character, one certainly is the anti-bullying aspect," Benway said.

Part of what they do there is embodied in this statement: To know you is to like you.

"How do you get to know who's at your table?" Benway explained rhetorically. "How do you make a connection with your teachers? How do you make connections in your community?"

Every day at lunchtime, when they gather to eat, they also make a special effort to recognize each other and to meet those they don't normally hang with.

Malia is a student at Ashland High.

"It's working really well," she said. "I think as a school it has kind of united us more. Without them I think we'd be just like any normal school but I think we're like one big Ashland family."

Ben Spieldenner teaches English at Ashland H.S. He and Benway are co-founders of the 10-year-old Lunch Bunch program.

"We do all kinds of crazy stuff every single day," Spieldenner said. "We have an Xbox One. We have a Wii that kids play. We are now in the middle of a ping-pong tournament. We have kids that play guitar regularly. We have kids that meet in camp chairs and kind of having a good time just sitting and chatting."

High school can be a difficult place to fit in and make friends. Lunch Bunch helps build teamwork and camaraderie says 12th grader Cameron Gorrell.

"That allowed me to either A, play ping pong with people I haven't actually known or know went to this school or B just have a good time," Gorrell said.

It's hard to fight somebody after you've sat at a table with them eating ice-cream and cake during a birthday celebration. Genevieve Wesner will celebrate her birthday tomorrow, Friday the 13th.

"It's wonderful," Wesner said. "It's great. I love it. I just feel so happy. It makes me happy. Just feeling that I have a school that actually cares for me and is here to support me. It's great."

You know celebrating each other and creating a culture of connections are subjects we should all strive to get an "A" in.

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