“Lunch Bunch” reunites students, teacher after long pandemic

Prior to COVID-19, Mr. Paul Marquez was a new teacher to the school who specialized in reading and has since become a leader for the student response team. Marquez, still finding his way within the Falcon’s ‘Nest’ at the time, was looking for a way to not only get to know some of the students, but to bring a sense of community to CHS.

Marquez was also new to the concept of One Lunch, a newly implemented opportunity, put in place four years ago by VBCPS, for students to socialize, makeup work, or just have some downtime during their day.

In other words, One Lunch was a time where students were not separated into four block schedules for lunch. Furthermore, the hour given for One Lunch gave students more freedom, offering them choices. Students were not required to only eat in the cafeteria, but to also eat in classrooms and in the hallways.

“The last time we met as a group, the Lunch Bunch were sophomores. It was great to see them come back as seniors and to recapture the old one lunch magic,” Marquez said.

So, Marquez invited a group of a sophomores into his classroom for lunch, not expecting friendships to develop that were maintained during the pandemic. After getting to know students that regularly ate in his classroom, Marquez decided to create spirit days, such as Country Music Mondays and Thursdays. He also included festive activities during the holidays, that included Christmas movies and picnic days.

It has now been nearly two years since the pandemic began and students and teachers are back in person, but lunches are again split into four separate sections due to COVID protocol. However, this did not dissuade Marquez to reach out to the “Lunch Bunch” for a reunion.

As this group of students are now seniors who leave after third lunch, the reunion was set up after school before winter break. These students were more than excited to make one last memory with their teacher and it also allowed the group to reminiscence about freshman and sophomore memories; to simply reconnect over hot coco, holiday treats and a gift exchange.

“Especially after the pandemic, this reunion idea was awesome; not only because I could see the old lunch bunch crew, but it was great to also see Mr. Marquez,” senior Madeline Mascitti said.