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Pancakes Bringing Students Together

By David Boyce

One day early in the school year, freshman Moroni Lehnardt asked his English teacher, Chuck Zavos, if he could start a new club at Liberty High School. As a son in a military family, Lehnardt figures he has attended over 20 schools and has experienced a variety of different school clubs along the way.

“There were small little things at some of the schools I went to that I liked,” Moroni said. “One school had a Barbecue Club. I wanted to implement something like this at Liberty.”

In his first year at Liberty Public Schools, Lehnardt brought a fresh idea to Zavos about starting a Lumberjack Club. Once a week, Lehnardt wanted to make pancakes for students before class started. Zavos smiled at the idea and gave it a go.

“I thought this will never fly,” Zavos said. “It will last for two weeks.”

The Lumberjack Club served pancakes in Room 609, usually on Thursdays. It recently moved to Fridays and will be Friday for the remainder of the year. The club has become so popular that last Thursday, when the Lumberjack Club moved to Friday, several students came up to Zavos.

“Yesterday,” Zavos said on Friday, “we didn’t have it. I had a bunch of kids come up and say, ‘where are the pancakes Mr. Zavos?’”

Friday (March 3) was a milestone moment for the Lumberjack Club. Lehnardt served his 2,000th pancake slightly after 7:30 a.m. It was proof of just how much the new club has made a difference at Liberty.

The first few weeks of the club, Lehnardt served about 50 pancakes. It soon grew to 90, and that is when Zavos realized the Lumberjack Club had staying power. Lehnardt and junior Lily Bogue now prepare and serve between 120-to-130 pancakes. Two weeks ago, they served 175.

“It is mostly everyone,” Lehnardt said of the students who come in for pancakes. “You can’t label the people who come in here.”

True. Bogue has a calculus class next door to Room 609. Before joining last semester, Bogue heard there were leftover pancakes and took some. Soon, Bogue was arriving an hour before class and helped Lehnardt. She brought M&Ms and chocolate chips to add in the pancakes.

It wasn’t long before Bogue was called the Lumber Mom and Lehnardt the Lumber Son. It is easy for Bogue to figure out why the Lumberjack Club works.

“High schoolers love free food,” she said. “Everyone likes food.”

The Lumberjack Club provides more than pancakes. Students are able to connect. Some will sit in the classroom and eat the pancakes. Others will take them to their social gathering spot before classes start at 8:10.

One student who tries to come at least every other week is freshman Jack Smock, who appreciates what his fellow classmates are doing.

“It is a pretty big deal,” Smock said. “A lot of freshmen are nervous and don’t have a chance to do all of this. This brings out the good side of people and helps us get to know each other better and meet new people.”

Being raised in a military family, Lehnardt understands the importance of making new friends.

“Lily has become a good friend of mine,” Lehnardt said. “If I didn’t start this, I wouldn’t have met her.”

The Lumberjack Club has even allowed Zavos to reconnect with students he had a few years ago in freshman English.

“It is not the same group,” Zavos said. “We have kids who maybe don’t mingle together. Even for five minutes, they wait in line and they talk to each other.”

Lehnardt said he is surprised the Lumberjack Club has grown so much. Now, on days of the Lumberjack Club, an announcement comes over the school’s intercom announcing where pancakes are being served. Lehnardt has made an impact at Liberty in his first year.

It shouldn’t be surprising that a freshman who is dedicated and disciplined enough to start a new club, and help it grow, already has a good idea of what he wants to accomplish in the future.

“I plan on joining the military right out of high school and then probably doing something in engineering once I retire,” Lehnardt said.

It also says a lot about a high school to have an open atmosphere that encourages students to try new things.

“This definitely helps me wake up in the morning,” Smock said. “I can tell a big difference. I think this is cool. I am glad they are doing it.”