Friday, November 1, 2013

Mix It Up Lunch Day at PT Junior High Supports Anti-Bullying

Photo by Les Hassell, LNJ
Students at Pine Tree Junior High joined more than one million other students across the country to help break down social and racial barriers by participating in the 12th annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

The event, launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project in 2002, encourages students to sit with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Many schools plan similar barrier-busting activities throughout the day. Some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.

Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Thousands of schools nationwide participated in the event this year. “Mix It Up is a positive step that schools can take to help create learning environments where students see each other as individuals and not just as members of a separate group,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “When people step out of their cliques and get to know someone, they realize just how much they have in common.”

Photo by Les Hassell, LNJ
PTJH participates in this activity as part of our No Place For Hate program. It is out 3rd participate in Mix It Up lunch. The Southern Poverty Law Center established Teaching Tolerance in 1991 to provide educators with free resources designed to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.


Article from Longview News Journal, by Reese Gordon,

Hundreds of seventh-and eighth-grade Pine Tree Junior High School students packed the cafeteria for lunch Tuesday and stepped outside their comfort zones.

Instead of interacting with their regular social circles, students engaged in discussion with peers they didn’t know well as part of the school’s third annual “Mix It Up” lunch.

Eighth-grader Destiny Hunt— participating in her second such lunch — said she has seen a marked difference in student interaction since this past school year.

“There was a lot more bullying than there is this year,” she said. “I think that it’s good to get to know more people. Because you can make people feel loved and not just like, ‘These are my only friends’. They’ll get to know you and maybe start hanging out with you and not only their other friends.”

Destiny, who described herself as a “social butterfly, said the special lunch day has helped her meet new friends.

“I knew this one girl but I didn’t really know her well,” she said. “So I asked what her middle name was and how old she was. So we know each other more now.”

Seventh grade counselor Valerie Ogle said the lunch is part of the school’s “No Place for Hate” anti-bullying campaign.

Nationwide, more than 6,000 schools participated in a “Mix it Up” lunch Tuesday, Ogle said.

“I think we see more awareness,” she said. “Students now think they can speak with someone they don’t know and not think different of them because they’re different from me. I think it has promoted friendliness around the school just by giving the opportunity to interact at different times.”

As students made their way to the cafeteria, Ogle said each one received a card to determine grouping. A projector in the middle of the cafeteria displayed discussion questions for students to ask their peers in their small group.

Ogle said the questions included students’ favorite movie and favorite color.

Pine Tree Junior High School Principal Vanessa Robinson said the administration is focused on increasing the interaction between social clubs.

“You see all of our choir kids hang out together,” she said. “Our band kids do as well. They do because of their commonalities, but then this helps those students who may not be in one of those clubs or organizations to break out of their mold a little bit and make those new friendships.”

Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project launched the nationwide “Mix It Up” lunch in 2002. Founded in 1991, Teaching Tolerance provides educators with free resources aimed at reducing prejudice and improving inter-group relations.

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