Photographer Sam Cary
Facing Unusual Challenges
Social workers are made available to help students who have faced trauma and 100 percent of students at the school qualify for free and reduced lunch. With 90 percent of students never having been in school or only having interrupted schooling, the students are facing very different learning experiences in the United States than in their last country. Whether living in a refugee camp and receiving no education, or obtaining only sporadic education, they all have a bit to learn before assimilating into American public schools.
One of the issues to occur was shoving in the lunch line.
“Lunch can get to be a little crazy, especially when kids first start here,” academic instructional coordinator Kelly Moore said. “They tend to fight to get to the front of the line. We learned the reason they do that is because if you’re not first in many of these refugee camps, if they’re not the front of the line, they may not be able to eat. That’s part of the process, trying to get them to a place where they feel comfortable enough to not be at the front of the line.”
While the transition to the U.S. can be a drastic one for many, seemingly small efforts make a big difference for students in helping them get comfortable here.
“They will serve rice and beans every day,” Moore said. “That is such a staple of their diet in the Middle East that they created a special menu for school. We will have pizza and chicken and all the other things the other schools have but we will also have rice and beans, every day. When they come here there is so much change and so much different that it helps. There’s food they eat and are used to it.”