Local junior high lunch program motivates students to keep grades high

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Annie Camp Junior High School students are being kept in check by a program that makes them want to study. It's called Learning Lunch Lab, more commonly referred to as L3. It's something students don't want to be a part of. If they are, it means they have to spend their lunch hour studying instead of being with friends
Every two weeks, Annie Camp Principal William Cheatham pulls the names of students with two or more F's. Those students then spend their lunch hour in study hall instead of with their friends until they bring their grades up. Cheatham said when the program started, not everyone was on board.
"The parent called me and said 'I want a conference'," Cheatham said. 
Cheatham said he was glad, as he wanted the chance to explain why they were doing L3. Then, something happened. "He said 'Y'know, don't worry about it. My wife and I talked about it last night and we're going to back you on this. Our son came home and instead of wanting to go out to the movies or anything else he said 'No, I've gotta get my homework done, I've gotta get out of lunch lab." so they saw the motivating aspect as well," Cheatham said.
Since the program started, they've seen a significant decrease in the number of students who have to attend L3.
"The first time, I had 130 students in my building with two or more F's," Cheatham said. They had so many students in L3, they had to divvy up the students into groups. Fast forward to this school year and the numbers are staggering.
"This year we pulled it and we had 24," Cheatham said. "We've really seen a huge turn around the past three years."
Coach Wade Brown has been working with students in L3 since it started up. He's become a very integral part of making students get those grades back up.
"They're in here to get those grades up and improve in those areas so my job is to keep them on task with the grades that they're failing in and make sure they have something to do daily in that subject to improve on," Coach Brown said.
Brown explained that he will pull up the student's grades online and see which classes they're struggling in. He said once he knows which class they're failing, he'll make sure that's the subject they're studying.
Max Carter is a 9th grader at Annie Camp. He said he's never been in L3 and there's a reason for that.
"It was just motivation to keep your grades up. Kids who get pulled out of classes, they're losing their only social time so it even more motivates you to keep your grades up," Carter told Region 8 News.
Principal Cheatham said that's the point.
"The kids realize hey, they're not just here to lecture to me, they really want me to achieve."
Cheatham says the number of students with one failing grade is also down...dropping 50% in the past three years.

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