As we kick off Pizza Klatch for the 2015-16 school year, we'll be serving more pizza and support in Thurston County schools. We are excited to announce new partnerships with Tenino High School and South Sound High School, bringing confidential support and resources to 30 new LGBTQ+ youth and allies every week.
South Sound is a small alternative high school in Lacey that has been eagerly anticipating their chance to start Pizza Klatch. Old School Pizzaria is providing discounted pizza to the South Sound group each week.
"The first time I was late with the pizza, one of the students said, I don't really care if you bring lunch, I'm just glad you're here," said Bryan Butler, volunteer facilitator at South Sound High School. "That one actually stopped me up short."
Shawn Harris, South Sound's licensed social worker and school counselor added, "The students have bonded through the group and have become great supports for one another. Pizza Klatch is definitely something I look forward to each week!"
Thirty minutes away, south of Yelm highway, volunteers April Spaulding and JennyAnn Wheeler bring Pizza Time pizza in a hot bag from downtown Olympia to Tenino High School. April, a 2003 alumni of Tenino High recalls her high school experience, "The only person in high school that was out got made fun of and bullied a lot in the locker room. I didn't see anything other than heterosexual monogamous relationships. If there had been a Pizza Klatch when I was younger, it may have given me the space to figure things out sooner."
Dave Chappell, Principal of THS, has been pleased with the addition of Pizza Klatch to their support services at school. "Our goal at Tenino High School is to provide a safe, secure learning environment for ALL our students, including LGBTQ youth. Pizza Klatch provides a safe, supportive and caring environment where students who may feel disconnected and alone can just be themselves," Chappell said.
Pizza Klatch was made possible at THS with funding and support from the Bucoda-Tenino Healthy Action Team (B-THAT), a coalition of TOGETHER!. The coalition began discussions about Pizza Klatch last November and administered a survey in the Spring to gauge interest, support and/or opposition of Pizza Klatch. The survey results showed overwhelming support from students and staff, and the coalition voted to include Pizza Klatch as one of their projects this year. Stacia Wasmundt, Community Coordinator of B-THAT said, "Some of the goals of the B-THAT coalition are to increase safe and healthy opportunities for youth, build relationships and promote positive healthy futures, which aligns nicely with the mission of Pizza Klatch. So far, it seems like the students are loving not only the free pizza, but the ability to have a safe place to go every week and find support with their peers and the facilitators.” Michael VanBuskirk, counselor at THS, and Greg Meyers from True North Student Assistance and Services, ESD 113 were also integral to getting Pizza Klatch started at THS.
“I am excited to see that Pizza Klatch has had a strong student presence from the start. I introduced myself on the first day and both groups of students were extremely grateful and thanked us for having this group available at their school." Wasmundt added.
TOGETHER! also provides funding for Rainier high school, who has an average of 20 student attendees so far this year (in a school of 300). It is through community partnerships like that between Pizza Klatch and TOGETHER! that allows Pizza Klatch to continue to reach students at new schools each year.