Silver Stars restart No One Dines Alone program


Cooper Lieberknecht

The No One Dines alone program is a student driven program to provide help to students who are not fitting into communities at school and help them make their school a home.

Cooper Lieberknecht, Digital Staff

A student sits alone. He doesn’t think anyone knows that he hasn’t talked to anyone all day. He doesn’t think anyone has noticed that he sits in the same place every day and never with anyone his age. But, people have noticed, and they expect to make a change.

The Bowie Silver Stars took note of the problem of people not having anyone to sit with at lunch and decided to make a change on campus. Many students coming to Bowie the past few years have had a hard time making friends and finding people to sit with. 

“We run the program so that people have someone to eat with at lunch,” Silver Stars director Leanne Bilnoski said. “It’s up to us as leaders on the campus to talk to kids and start to build a community here at Bowie. There should never be a day that a student goes through the day without talking to somebody in a personal way on a personal level.” 

The No One Dines alone program is a student driven program to provide help to students who are not fitting into communities at school and help them make their school a home.

“The hardest part of the program is dealing with people saying no,” Bilnoski said. “Obviously some people want to be left alone and we don’t want to be pushy, but we want people to feel connected to the community and sometimes people don’t always feel comfortable and that’s okay.”

With this being the first year truly COVID free, the Silver Stars want to expand this program and partner with other student leadership positions to make the program what it once was.

“We thought it was a great program when it was brought to our school,” Bilnsoki said. “Now that COVID has calmed down a bit I volunteered to have the Silver Stars be in charge of the program. We are also working with the NHS to get involved as well, and down the road we are looking for clubs and teams to get involved with us as well.”

Many studies have shown that COVID-19 has heavily impacted teen’s mental health. Although people vary greatly in their experiences and responses to the pandemic. Studies that followed youth from before the pandemic to sometime in the first six months of the pandemic report increases in depression and negative effects but also little change or even increases in anxiety and irritability.

“We are trying to build a strong community here especially after COVID, it’s hard to come back and be social after being away from each other for so long,”  sophomore Silver Star dancer Mckenna Muling said. “It’s just difficult to connect socially when you miss out on those years and go straight to high school.”

Studies also show that when people feel isolated and depressed this leads to people who  are more likely to struggle in the classroom, academically and socially.  And the main focus of the No One Dines Alone project is to get people connected with others so that these things don’t happen to people.

“It was difficult at first because I’m an introverted person,” Muling said. “It was hard for me to walk up to someone I don’t know and sit with them but it makes your day to meet new people as long as you’re trying to get to know them.”

While the program is in its first few steps, it’s one that can have a very profound effect on kids at this school and can continue to do this for a long time.

“It’s hard sometimes when people don’t want to talk because it’s understandable and I try not to push it too hard,” Muling said. “The best part is making people’s days, when people open up to you it’s really nice.”