From Fine Arts Fridays to 50+ student clubs, the activities are as diverse as Blair itself.
The bell for lunch rings, and Blair Boulevard is immediately crowded as students attempt to wade through the throng and find somewhere to enjoy their lunch. Yet as the initial rush dies down, the main hallway begins clearing as students go to club meetings in classrooms or participate in the indoor soccer tournament in the gymnasium. As the largest public school in Maryland and with over 3000 students, Blair's building simply cannot withstand thousands of students eating in the student activity center (SAC) or first floor, even without regarding COVID-19 safety precautions. So where do Blazers go and what do they do?
Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, Blair switched from a two-lunch-period system to a single lunch period, called One Lunch. The shift led to more opportunities for students to seek academic support and attend clubs with fewer concerns over teacher and room availability, but it also required detailed planning to ensure that there was enough space for students to enjoy lunch.
Blair Lunch Activities, which can be viewed at lunch.MBHS.edu, include everything from movies in the auditorium and Fine Arts Fridays to soccer tournaments in the gym and clubs. Administrator Peter Ostrander explains that for new activities such as Fine Arts Fridays, the Blair lunch activities organizers asked teachers for their ideas. "We asked for department and teacher volunteers who were willing to do anything at lunch to engage students in different ways," Ostrander says.
Fine Arts Fridays started on Oct. 1 with student-made temporary tattoos on Blair Boulevard with Hispanic Heritage Month inspired designs. Students crowded around the tables set up, excited to receive fun celebratory tattoos made by their peers. Additionally, throughout the month, there will be several Hispanic Heritage Crafts events to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. The lunch activity calendar is constantly being updated, and as students and staff settle into the new school year, fine arts teachers will add more activities with their availability. "Soon, I hope to host an activity for students to paint their own masks. And this year, I think we'll see a lot more activities tied to specific celebration months and mindfulness," Armstead-Thomas says.
Fine arts resource teacher Jacqueline Armstead-Thomas said that she got the idea of Fine Arts Fridays from other county teachers. "I go to countywide teacher meetings where we share best practices or great ideas. With moving to One Lunch and needing a space and place for students to be during lunch, as most students rarely come to the Fine Arts hallway, we [fine arts teachers] wanted to open up our space and provide fun activities," Armstead-Thomas says.
Blair's athletic department is also busy providing sports games. "There is currently an indoor soccer tournament going on, and we hope to have an indoor basketball tournament later on," Ostrander says.
In net sports class, students are currently playing volleyball. With the nets already set up in the small gym and balls piled neatly in a large cart on one side, students walk in during lunch for a fun scrimmage with friends. Laughter and words of encouragement fill the gym as students pass a volleyball amongst themselves in a friendly scrimmage. Others use the gym as an opportunity to fine-tune their skills and practice jump serves or serve-receive.
With over 50 clubs meeting each week during lunch at Blair, many groups are taking advantage of the opportunity the one-hour long lunch period provides. Junior Aileen Qi, Founder and President of the new Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter at Blair, explains the convenience of holding clubs during lunch. "Lunch seems to work with everybody's schedule, as many have time commitments and other activities after school. It did not seem feasible to have an after-school meeting that would allow a lot of prospective HOSA members to join," she explains.
With a large population of Blazers and a Blair campus only so large, Blair Lunch engages students all around the school through clubs, sports, the arts, movies, academic support, career assistance, or simply study time. There is something for everyone, especially during lunch, when an hour can seem to last forever.
Check out Blair Lunch's schedule each week to view an updated calendar of all that Blair offers. Try something new (or familiar): a club, a friendly sports game, a movie, an art event. With such a diverse range of events, there's bound to be something you enjoy.
Joy Song. Hi! My name is Joy, and I'm a staff writer. Apart from writing for SCO, I enjoy reading and listening to music. More »