Ermila Mazariegos, Chloe YokitisStaff Writer, Editor
In a letter sent on Parentsquare yesterday evening, ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas announced that Titan Lunch will not be taking place this school year. This comes after sources confirmed Thursday that the extended lunch period’s implementation had been postponed from its planned January 24 start date due to Central Office not approving the plan.
“At this time, we will not be able to reinstate Titan Lunch for the 2022-23 school year as we have known it,” Balas wrote. “Over the next semester, we will find ways to provide supports to students focused on academics, wellbeing and student life.”
He explained that his team and ACPS senior leadership “have heard many perspectives and advocacy to accommodate this period in the schedule for the remainder of this year,” but a “tough call must be made.”
The new schedule had been “tentatively” planned to go into effect on Tuesday, January 24, the first day of the third quarter. Balas had announced this date as well as a timeline for the program’s relaunch in a Parentsquare communication on October 24, three days after the end of the first quarter.
On Thursday, Theogony reported through social media that sources confirmed Titan Lunch had been “postponed indefinitely” since Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt and her team had not yet approved the plan.
Junior AJ Houseman says that communication about the extended lunch period has felt unclear and last-minute.
“I first heard about Titan Lunch being postponed in class [on Thursday] and thought, no way ACPS could mess up that badly. Turns out, they did,” they said. “Even my teachers don’t know what’s going on with Titan Lunch, so everything has been word of mouth so far.”
They said that they feel “disappointed” in ACPS.
“Despite that Titan Lunch was supposed to be an ‘improved’ version [of] Lunch & Learn, this feels like a horrible start to the upcoming third quarter,” they said.
On Friday morning, the Student Lunch Committee (SLC), a group of around 25 students who created the Titan Lunch rebranding and proposal, announced on social media that it was organizing a walkout. The group has confirmed to Theogony that the walkout is still planned to take place this Tuesday during PRIDE time on the school football field.
In a 500-word statement released Friday evening, the group wrote, “This is no longer just about Titan Lunch.”
The students expressed frustration and asserted that the cancellation was made with “Central Office optics and convenience, not security” in mind.
The statement reads, “This, fundamentally, is an issue of response and transparency. To cancel such a program a mere 4 days before implementation with the vague, nondescript reasoning of ‘numerous factors’ is insulting, especially after hundreds of hours of work were put into this plan by students, teachers, and administrators.”
The SLC explained on Instagram Friday morning that it is a student group who has been “continuously demeaned and ignored as students” by “people at all levels.” It said that school walkouts targeted on issues that can be solved by the school administration are effective.
“We need a physical demonstration of actual awareness that can be addressed by ACHS and thus forces the hand of [Central Office] to (finally) act,” the group wrote.
News of the walkout, which has been spread through social media and word of mouth, has become the topic of discussion in the school community.
On the ACHS parent and community Facebook group, parents discussed the extended lunch cancellation and demonstrated support for the walkout.
“I told [my children], Tuesday is just the start!! Strength in numbers… And you don’t get anything if you don’t demand action!!!!,” one parent wrote. “Walk out on Wednesday and Thursday, and so on, and so on….!”
Junior Journey Fisher says that while the walkout would amplify student voice and give Central Office “no choice but to hear us,” it might not benefit students in the long run.
“The school administration and the school board already know us to ‘do whatever we want,’” she said. “A walk out could do more damage than good.”
Theogony reached out to the ACPS Communications Team Friday afternoon for an interview or statement from the interim superintendent, and was informed that an interview with Kay-Wyatt would not be possible on Friday.
February 10, 2023
A statement by Interim Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt shared to Theogony:
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) leadership has been working during this school year with school administration to consider the opportunities for student choice during the lunch period at Alexandria City High School (ACHS). We have heard many voices in the discussion about Titan Lunch and appreciate the input from students, staff, families and community members as we continue to weigh multiple factors that need to be addressed in this decision.
I want to assure you that we have listened carefully and have gained an understanding of the concerns and preferences of our students, and we thank you for sharing these. We are so fortunate in ACPS to have experienced experts who do their research and collaborate closely with instructional leaders and administrators on how to operationalize and manage the varied activities and programs at all of our schools in a safe and orderly manner. We will continue with this work and will share additional information with ACHS students and the community as this becomes available.
Theogony editors Emily Milton and Yahney-Marie Sangaré and staff writers James Libresco and Salma El Gourchal are members of the Student Lunch Committee but were not involved in the writing of this article.
Featured image text is ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas’s letter that was sent out on Parentsquare on Friday, January 20