By Lucille Garcia
On Fridays, an important meeting has taken place in the conference room at Baltimore School for the Arts. This meeting, hosted by the school’s Principal, Rosiland Cauthen, is not for discussions of the school budget, nor is it for adjustments to the academic curriculum. Instead, it’s for something entirely different: Student Lunch Bunches.
The idea of the Lunch Bunch, originally put in place by former BSA Principal Leslie Shepard, was created to bridge the gap between the students and the director. The meeting takes place during a specific lunch period where designated students are invited to eat with Cauthen.
“I was talking with Leslie about how you stay connected to students, because sometimes as a principal, you know, you’re not teaching, you’re not in the classroom, it can feel a little disconnected,” said Cauthen “And she said that all those years ago, she would have lunch conversations with students, that she would bring snacks, she would invite certain groups of kids, and she would just sort of sit and talk with them about what was going on in the school.”
During the lunch bunch, students of all grades and departments are welcome to share their culture and background over snacks provided by Cauthen. Many topics are discussed throughout the meeting, from groups students identify with the issues around the school that influence their daily lives.
One of the most important components of the lunch bunch is diversity. Diversity is heavy in the BSA community, with students and staff stemming from all over the world. During the meeting, diversity among the students is celebrated and welcomed.
“I think that diversity doesn’t always have to be about difficult, tough topics of race and religion. Building understanding around diversity can just be about listening to other people’s stories. Hearing other people’s perspective builds empathy, connection, and understanding,” expressed Cauthen.
Sometimes sharing in front of a group of people you’re unfamiliar with can be scary. However, Film Freshman Shamir Burg found the atmosphere of the lunch bunch to be welcoming.
“I think the people that were facilitating the discussion, as well as Principal Roz, really were trying hard to not just figure out how to get kids to say what they wanted to hear, but were actually trying to hear what kids wanted and how kids felt. I think that’s really, really important,” added Burg.
The positive feedback from the handful of lunch bunches that have already taken place is evident, with students excited by the prospect of joining a meeting, and some even requesting to return for a second time. The goal is to have every student invited to at least one lunch bunch by February of 2023, and that these lunch bunches may be continued in the future. Every student is encouraged to join a lunch bunch, and will no doubt be welcomed with open arms.
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Headline photo caption:
BSA students and faculty at a lunch bunch. Photo by Grace Sutherland for the BSA Muse.