Remember what lunch was like when you were in middle school? For some adults, it was a painful experience: Who do I sit with? What if they won’t let me sit there? What if they laugh at me?And now imagine middle school students dining in a formal setting with N.C. Wyeth’s magical painting, The Giant, as a backdrop. Tables seat an assigned mix of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, plus a faculty member. Crews of students serve the food, take care of cleanup and reset the tables afterward.
Conversations are polite – and sometimes scintillating. Food is served family style, with a salad bar and vegetarian selections as options, and as part of the Farm to School movement, much of Westtown’s food comes from local providers. In this setting, meals nourish the spirit as well as the body.
Visitors are frequently amazed that lunchtime for middle schoolers can be this civilized. And parents often cite the lunch program with its informal interactions between students and teachers as one of the things they value most about Westtown.
And the inclusiveness, acceptance, and sense of community so evident in the dining room are also present throughout the Middle School. No one is left out, and students are always encouraged to share their opinions.