The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School


Students Walk Out In Protest of Titan Lunch Cancellation


Nora Malone


On January 24, the Independent Student Lunch Committee (SLC) hosted a walkout to show the mass support for the Titan Lunch proposal. The walkout came after ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas announced that the new extended lunch period would not be implemented for the second half of the 2022-2023 school year as planned. Theogony reported that Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt and her Central Office Leadership Team blocked the plan the previous week. This decision created immediate uproar from students, parents and staff.

The walkout took place during Titan PRIDE time, a 30-minute period intended to help students receive social-emotional learning. During the walkout, students filled the stands of Parker Gray Memorial Stadium and took part in chants before listening to speeches by SLC leaders.

The speeches focused on sharing the hard work the group has been doing and the response they received from Central Office.

“We have been working tirelessly every week coming up with a complex plan, but Central Office does not want to be transparent with us,” said junior Salma El Gourchal. “[Kay-Wyatt] has not walked into this school trying to talk to us; [she] does not know how hard we’ve been working, as a collective student body, and how much we need this.”

A student holds a sign that reads “We Deserve to be Heard” / Photo by Nora Malone

Junior Yahney-Marie Sangaré said that students can take a stand by reaching out to the interim superintendent and Central Office. 

“If you want to get this done, show up to School Board meetings, email Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt and tell her this is not good. Continue your activism,” said Sangaré.

SLC leader Alex Smith and ACPS Student Representative Emily Milton, both seniors, held signs professing “How much longer must we wait?” and “Instate Titan Lunch.”

Alex Smith, Salma El Gourchal and Emily Milton hold signs / Photo by Nora Malone

Torenzo Ricks, another School Board Student Representative, said, “As student representative, I always say that each student must use their voice and platform. So, I think it’s very important for each and every student that came out today to get the word out and use their platforms so we can get [Titan Lunch] back.”

Senior Aaliyah Royster, another SLC member, hyped up the crowd in her speech and said that she hopes that the momentum generated by the walkout remains.

Royster later said, “I think that this will start a movement where, if people continue to show their support for Titan Lunch and the treatment by Central Office is unfair, they won’t be able to ignore us.”

According to SLC members, the goal of the walkout was not a one-and-done; it was to spread the word and excite students to continue fighting. 

SLC members Aaliyah Royster, Alex Smith, Yahney-Marie Sangaré, Emily Milton, Torenzo Ricks, and Salma El Gourchal prepare their speaches / Photo by Nora Malone

One of the main points of contention between students and the Central Office workers was the feeling of disconnect, El Gourchal said.

“They wanted to go into education to educate kids, but they are not listening to the kids. We are the reason they have a job. Why can’t they take the time out of their day to come talk to us, see the school, walk into the school and see how everything is operating?” said El Gourchal.

The students’ feelings of dissatisfaction did not disappear after the walkout ended. ACHS Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) President, Katy Matthews, released a statement on behalf of the Organization on Thursday, January 26. 

 “We are dismayed that in over four months, senior leadership could not come up with a plan that would provide equitable academic support and enrichment opportunities for all students while also keeping them safe,” she wrote.

ACHS administration also recognized the cancellation and walkout. The day after the walkout, Campus Administrator Christopher Speich recognized the students who planned the walkout over the morning PA announcements.

“We’re proud of you for finding and exercising your voice. It was peaceful, it was orderly, it was impactful. You all were exemplar of why this work is so important to many of us— teachers, staff,” he said. “I’m impressed by you.”

Currently, there has been no public communication from Kay-Wyatt or Central Office regarding the cancellation or walkout.

El Gourchal says the fight is far from over, but the SLC is ready for whatever comes next.

“Get out there and fight for what’s right; fight for what the student body needs,” she said.

SLC member James Libresco speaks to the crowd / Photo by Nora Malone

Featured Image by Chloe Yokitis for Theogony

Theogony editors Emily Milton and Yahney-Marie Sangaré and staff writers James Libresco and Salma El Gourchal are members of the Student Lunch Committee but were not involved in the writing of this article.

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Students Walk Out In Protest of Titan Lunch Cancellation