The similarities between Sardis secondary’s Breakfast Club and the John Hughes cult classic are uncanny.
The Breakfast Club movie, which was released in 1985, was centred around five high school students, each portraying a different stereotype, who thought they had nothing in common, only to discover they were a lot more alike than they realized.
Sardis secondary’s club was started in the same vein by a diverse group of students who a year ago also thought they had nothing in common.
Challenge Day changed that.
Last February the Challenge Day program, which aims at breaking down stereotypes and barriers between students, was offered to several teens in Chilliwack.
After six hours in the same room together, “it was like we were a family,” said Grade 12 student Sebastian White. “We didn’t want to see that die with the day.”
Following Challenge Day, 26 Sardis students formed the Be the Change committee, a student led and run organization.
The committee’s first order of business was to create a breakfast club, offering breakfast to students twice a week.
“It’s free breakfast for students who want free breakfast,” said Grade 12 student Trenton McIntyre.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve already had breakfast that morning, or if they’re parents can’t afford breakfast, no questions are asked, just food provided.
“If you’re hungry and starving in class, it’s really hard to focus when your stomach is rumbling all the time,” said McIntyre, with two slices of toast, spread thick with peanut butter next to him.
“If you’re hungry, we’ve got food.”
Do they ever.
A long row of desks in Room B120 are pushed together and nearly every available space is covered with food: apples, grapes, bananas, bags of bread, muffins, peanut butter, honey, jam, oatmeal, juice, coffee, tea, milk, and more.
There’s also hygiene products, school supplies, and used clothes available.
All of which have been acquired by students.
Every week Cobs Bread and Kins Farm Market donate bread and bananas – at the request of the students. The school’s PAC has also donated funds – at the request of the students.
As well, several students bring in home-baked goods. One student, Sharon Strauss, spends approximately $60 to $70 a week, of her own money, on grocery supplies for the program.
“I’m naturally really shy, I don’t talk to too many people, but this has helped me be more social,” said Strauss, a Grade 12 student.
“I think it’s very important to be able to get together like this and have something to eat … and if we’re able to help people by doing this, that’s good too.”
This isn’t the first breakfast program to be started in the school district. Other schools have offered free breakfast or hot lunches to students in need, but the difference with this one, it doesn’t single students out.
“It’s youth helping youth,” said Grade 12 student Megan McClennon. “We go to school with these kids, we know what’s happening around us more than teachers do.”
“This is a place to come and enjoy eating together, it’s an opportunity for the kids in our school to really get to know each other, open up, eat,” added Grade 12 student Jasmine Proctor, between bites of an apple.
“Be the Change has given a sense of welcoming in our school.”
However, because most of the students will be graduating this year, organizers are worried the club will fizzle.
At a recent board of education meeting, a group of Sardis students approached Chilliwack trustees and requested funding for another Challenge Day so that other students can experience what they did and keep the momentum growing.
Challenge Day, is a California-created program, that usually runs over three days at a cost of $4,020.
Sardis secondary teacher Parween Irani partnered with teachers in Hope and Mission in sharing the costs to bring the program to each district for one day.
Sardis secondary’s PAC helped with Chilliwack’s portion of the cost.
In total, 155 Chilliwack students in grades 8-12, attended the program; 80 of who were from Sardis.
“I would like to see all three high schools get this opportunity,” said Irani at the school board meeting.
“These students are the ones who can bring more change efficiently and effectively than I can as a teacher.”
Their breakfast club, which on average attracts 100 or more students each day, is proof.