At Ledo’s Pizza, QUEST students build community

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At the start of each spring semester for the past few years now, QSO has made a tradition out of its annual Ice Skating and Ledo’s pizza day. Students meet at the ice rink by the College Park Metro, and spend an hour accumulating their fair share of falls, bumps, bruises, and laughs. They then bustle down to Ledo’s pizza, where they find hot, steaming, sweet pies stacked high around a private room, free of charge. QSO has found great success in this event; after all, there’s nothing college students love and crave more than free pizza.

However, to QUEST’s students, Ledo’s pizza has become more than just another one of many opportunities for free food through the program. As students pour into the restaurant and get cozy in the walled off QUEST section, thawing their frostbitten ears and exploring the seemingly endless selection of toppings, the noise grows to a merry racket. Students from cohort 20, newly minted alumni and adjusting to life without QUEST classes together, catch up and reflect on their years in the program. Members of the new cohorts, 23 and 24, meet and mingle, some for the first time, swapping stories about 190 projects, the instructor Pam Armstrong, and Maryland basketball. Junior QUESTees help to form the bridge between seniors and sophomores, bouncing around the room greeting old friends and making new connections.

More than good food and a warm escape from the single digits temperatures, QUEST students have found Ledo’s provides a place to grow and create the bonds of fellowship that give the program the community feel that makes it so unique and valuable. Breaking bread and swapping tales, escaping the classroom and sharing laughs, what started as simply another QSO event has become an annual revival and reminder of the strength of the QUEST community.

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