Our head custodian, a bear of a man with the heart of a Russian grandmother, came up with the idea. He mentioned it to me and to the somewhat magical woman who runs our library, and together they ruminated on it a bit, found a collection of picnic blankets, and took the idea to our ASB class. There, what had started with the thought: “we have great weather and a nice campus. Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers and students ate outside together more often” turned into something special: “Lunch on the Lawn.”
A 7th grader came to our faculty meeting to invite teachers to join him and other students for lunch on Friday. With poise beyond that of most twelve year olds, he stood in front of fifty teachers and told them how much he’d like them to come out and connect. The staff smiled at his request, and agreed that it would be a good day to be sure to wear our Diegueño shirts.
Rainclouds threatened on Friday morning, but not enough to deter the kids from laying out picnic blankets in the grass in the center of campus. And while a few drops fell over the course of lunch, they landed on students and teachers sitting together, more focused on laughing than any water from the sky.
Conversation wasn’t forced; we talked about the superbowl, moms and wives guiding boys and husbands in what not to wear, and our upcoming Spirit Day. One ASB student explained “Link Week,” which they’d thought about calling “Friendship Week,” and the activities they had planned to help bring our school community together.
It was a laughing and lively lunch, when students could see teachers for who they are: people, and teachers could interact with kids in their natural habitat: lunch.
Connections to school and to each other don’t happen by accident, nor do they resonate best when they’re mandated by someone wearing a tie. As principal, I couldn’t have decreed “Lunch on the Lawn” any more than I could have demanded that the clouds drop no rain. “Lunch on the Lawn” happened because two classified staff, both of whom love Diegueño and the people who work and learn here, looked around and noticed how something good could be even better.
It happened because these two did more than think about an idea; they acted on it. Bringing students and staff together with a sense of fun bubbled up, and was not pushed down. It was a true grassroots effort that led to something wonderful.
Diegueño is blessed to have adults and students who care deeply for our school and each other. Sure we have times when we’re out of sorts or don’t see eye to eye, but even as we work together through challenging times, I’m encouraged by that ideas to help knit us together are being hatched from many corners of our campus.
And based on the smiles I saw at “Lunch on the Lawn” that overcast Friday, I’m convinced we may have seen the dawn of a new tradition. Just wait until we spread out the picnic blankets beneath the sun of spring!