Wake County Schools

Lunch hour experiment improves Panther Creek's graduation rates

Posted March 29, 2014

— Lunch is a very ordinary part of every high school student’s school day. But a lunchtime experiment at the county’s newest high school in Cary has led to extraordinary results — a 94.7 percent graduation rate.

SMART (Students Maximizing Achievement Relationships and Time) Lunch is the vision of Panther Creek High School Principal Rodney Nelson. Its effects, say students, teachers and administrators, are staggering.

The SMART lunch modifies the traditional lunch schedule so that every student and teacher in the school has a one-hour lunch period at the same time. Strict rules are in place regarding where students can and cannot eat. Part of the student population eats during the first 30 minutes while others are in SMART lunch. A bell rings after 30 minutes and they rotate.

During SMART lunch, students receive tutoring, participate in enrichment activities, make up tests, attend career conversations, meet with college admissions representatives, or participate in clubs and organizations. A schedule is posted of the subject areas holding SMART lunch programs each day of the week.

Panther Creek High School boasts one of the highest graduation rates in Wake County at 94.7 percent. Students in every subgroup see success at Panther Creek High School, including students with limited English proficiency, African-American students, Latino students, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, according to data released by the state.

Panther Creek SMART lunch credited with higher graduation rates

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  • Roland Kandalbar Mar 31, 2014
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    Good for Panther Creek! Lot's of great things with the Wake County Public Schools. Why some people in our state politics denigrate the work of public schools is a mystery. Perfection? Impossible.

  • boysmom Mar 31, 2014

    Apex High School used to do the same thing, but discontinued it much to my disappointment.