Kelly Harnish of Lampeter-Strasburg's Aevidum Club can remember the awkwardness of walking into the cafeteria at the beginning of a new marking period and not seeing any friends.
Today, as part of the Aevidum Club, she and other club members take turns sitting at a table anyone can join. The club started the open table two weeks ago and has already has a success story.
A student facing challenges thanked the club for giving her a safe place to go on the day the table opened, adviser Kristin Glass said. The table stood out because it had a special covering in the middle of the cafeteria.
"We wanted to provide a place where everyone feels safe," said junior Beth Dibiase.
L-S students modeled their club after one at Cocalico High School, and it shares the motto, "We Got Your Back." Cocalico donated wrist bands with the logo for L-S club members to share with their classmates.
Junior Katelynn Gebhart said club members noticed that not all their classmates had a sense of community. She said some students seemed to never have a group of friends to sit with. Now they have a place to feel comfortable.
Aside from providing the open table, the club held a bake sale recently to raise money to adopt a school facility dog. The dog will cost $3,000, in addition to vet bills and food.
Glass said being around pets lowers blood pressure and helps with depression. Group members said the dog would greet students at the beginning and end of the day and would live with a staff member.
The high school club also has begun working with other district buildings. They hope to start an Aevidum Club at Martin Meylin Middle School and establish Buddy Benches at Hans Herr and Lampeter elementaries. Similar to the open table, a bench buddy provides a place for students to go who want to join with someone else in a game or just to talk to.
The Aevidum Club also provides many little reminders to classmates that someone cares. The club is posting more than 1,000 paper hands with the names of every student and staff member.
Members said the club also places post-it notes in bathrooms with sayings like, "You are beautiful."