Eyes widen and mouths water as a group of hungry high-schoolers flock to the scent of classic Italian cuisine. The fresh smell of warm bread fills the room, as the odor of ripe tomato sauce and melted cheese tantalizes their noses. They drool, fantasizing about the most perfect pizza, and hoping that this is the one. They thoughtfully devour their treat, noting every detail intently. From the spice, to the crust, this pizza is approaching excellence.

This is the usual scene at Pizza Club, a social group focused on connecting kids with one another through a new medium: pizza. The main goal of this club is to order as much pizza as possible, taste and critique the dish, and assign it a ranking. Honing in on the New England area, this club is on the hunt for the “elusive 10,”

Since the perfect pie has been coveted by kids and adults alike, the idea to form the club was the brainchild of several Andover High School students. Gathering at the AYS offices often, and concocting innovative new ideas, the group talks about a wide range of topics. Of course, “The pizza question come up: ‘What’s the greatest pizza you have ever had in your life?’” says Neal Callahan, AYS program advisor. The group hopped onto the AYS bus and jetted off, deciding to form a coalition of pizza connoisseurs, determined to hunt down the best of the best.

To begin their search, the team asked around to gain insight on what other people believed to be the best pizza. Callahan “found out quickly that we rarely got the same review of one place, [as] everyone had their own opinion but none of us had ever had a 10.” With the help of AYS advisors and passionate high schoolers, the group started recruiting pizza lovers of all kinds.

Meghan Comerford, a sophomore at Andover High and pizza club member, said she “loves pizza and wanted to compare how various restaurants make it differently.”

The club has just begun, but has ordered pizza “from Captain’s, supposedly the best pizza in the area, but it did not receive a 10/10,” said Erin Walsh, sophomore and club member.

To keep track of all these fantastic pizzas, club advisor Tony Lombardi has been considering “creating a book, or pizza guide, that records a picture and the final rate of all the pizza’s the group has tried,” says Walsh.

But students mouths aren’t full of pizza alone, as the club has become a hot topic.

Pizza club set up a booth at the Andover High club fair, drawing 111 members on the first day. Now, the group has grown to around 130 members. Travis Traub, sophomore and member of the club, said, “There is a lot of buzz about it, especially in the sophomore class. Lots of my friends joined and I was interested in what the club was about.” Since so many people adore pizza, the club is an easy way to get involved with something new.

AYS offers tons of programs and activities for all AHS students. Comerford said she saw “people who like trying new things joining this club.”

This is the first club of its kind, and is breaking new ground. No one has “heard of any other schools or Youth Service departments that have a pizza club… we think it would be great to have more clubs similar to this because it’s pretty stress free and more about the journey than the end goal,” says Callahan.

But the club isn’t just about eating great pizza; there is a big emphasis on community. Members “get to know each other better, play games, goof around, talk about our day or life and engage in physical activities like basketball, tennis, have a catch or do another activity along with it,” Callahan said. The lax vibe and flexible schedule allow for busy kids to wind down and enjoy some pizza with great company. The members are alerted “randomly by text message from Tony, who gives a date and time for the club to meet,” says Traub. Centered around the social aspect of food, the club creates a common thread between members and links up people who wouldn’t normally talk. By fostering communal bonds and reinforcing a positive environment, pizza club is working to fuse students together, in the most delicious of situations.

Sitting, munching, laughing, enjoying. Pizza club is a fresh new way to hang out with friends, meet new people, and taste the most scrumptious pizza New England has to offer. Uniting the community through smiles and melted cheese, pizza club is utilizing the most delectable fare you could think of to solidify a stronger sense of community. As Lombardi always says, “Grab a slice of life… just don’t burn the roof of your mouth.”

By Taylor Burns