New high school lunch program aims to improve grades

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ST. CLOUD, Fla. —

St. Cloud High School is taking a new approach to help students perform better in the classroom this year.

The initiative could mean a shorter lunch break for hundreds of students.

St. Cloud High School Principal Nate Fancher says failure is not an option at his school. Instead of letting kids get zeros when they don’t do an assignment, they will be forced to complete the assignment. It could mean that the students have to give up half of their lunch.

“Hopefully that will be a motivating factor. They'll say 'I really want that time for the weight room, basketball, to go off campus, to hang out with my friends.'… It is not designed as a punishment; it is designed as a motivating tool to make sure every one of our students can graduate on time," Fancher said.

The principal says the school will ensure every student has time to eat lunch. If a student feels like they did not get enough time for lunch, all they have to do is ask an administrator and get a hand stamp.

Last year every student got a 45-minute lunch break. This year, students who are doing well can get a full hour, which they can use to do anything, from catch up on assignments to go off campus for lunch.

“It's a lot better. I don't have to stay after school as much,” said senior Hailey Piana.

“If I'm tired and not getting a concept, a teacher can pull me in and reteach it straight to me instead of an entire class,” explained another senior, Blake Grno.

The split lunch hour is a research-based intervention making its way around the country. Research shows the concept helps more students graduate on time.

St. Cloud’s principal says cutting into the lunch break of failing students works better than having them stay after school because the students who need the most help won’t stay late.