“If we did this all the time, we would have a million friends!” That’s what a fifth-grader from Animas Valley Elementary School exclaimed after her school’s Mix It Up at Lunch event this year. Animas Valley is one of 104 Mix It Up Model Schools (including two outside the United States) that we’re recognizing today for fostering respect and understanding among students and throughout campus during the 2014-15 school year.
Not familiar with Mix It Up at Lunch Day? The program began in 2002 and seeks to break down social barriers by encouraging students to sit with someone new at lunch. Educators and students tell us that exclusionary social cliques can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment, and that these cliques are extra visible in the lunchroom. During Mix It Up at Lunch Day, schools plan fun activities to help reduce the power of lunchroom divisions.
So, what’s a Model School? These schools participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day and followed up with additional events that promote kindness and friendship and encourage students to be more inclusive throughout the school year. How did they do it? Cruise over to the Mix It Up Model Schools page and check out all 104 schools. They’ll be posted there all year as examples to help other schools plan similar barrier-busting activities.
There’s Forest Hills Central Woodlands 5/6, where students were treated like rock stars and got to walk a red carpet. Then there’s Imagine School at Broward, which hosted a decades-themed event complete with a “dress as your time period” contest. At the Tucker Adult Transition Program, participants enjoyed dancing to Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens and the Gypsy Kings. And the folks at Woodland Middle School competed in a full-body rock-paper-scissors tournament!
These and all 104 Model Schools utilized the talents of diverse individuals and groups from the school community in the planning and implementation of the event. They also took a multimedia approach to publicity and reported that students enjoyed the day.
The 2015 Mix It Up at Lunch Day will be held on Oct. 27. We offer an array of free online resources to help school groups and teachers explore the issue of social divisions and plan their event. Each school sets its own agenda and chooses its own theme.
Register for Mix 2015 now and join the fun. And congratulations again to all our 2014-15 Model Schools!
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