Piner Middle School Participates in National Mix it Up Day
With his lunch bag in hand, Eric Hatter enters his school’s cafeteria to eat. He notices balloons are hung around the lunch tables, music is playing, and the campus counselors are encouraging students to sit with someone new.
The seventh grader begins to pan the cafeteria to locate his regular table and notices his friends are not there. Following the directions of the school counselors, Eric locates a table with a few familiar faces and a couple of perfect strangers to dine with.
"This isn’t too different," he says, as he sits at a new lunch table, with new people, and successfully participates in the first, Piner Middle School, Mix it Up at Lunch Day.
The national Mix it Up at Lunch campaign encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries during a common social time during the school day. This one day in October is geared towards removing social boundaries during lunch where division in schools is often created and maintained. School Counselor, Cindy Parson believes the campaign promotes random acts of kindness.
“I think it’s neat that when our kids walked in the door and we told them that we wanted to try something new, many of our students were open to it,” she said. “The entire country is participating and Piner Middle School is a part of something that aligns with anti-bullying and promoting a positive school culture.”
Principal Amy Porter believes the cafeteria is the best place to encourage students to move out of their comfort zones and meet new friends.
“On most days, students sit with the same people and miss opportunities to make new friends. We are encouraging our students to interact with those who are different to help diminish biases and misperceptions,” she said. “During all four lunches, students were seen introducing themselves to each other, smiling and enjoying the Mix it Up experience.”
Seventh grader Hailey Wilson admits that without the actual Mix it Up at Lunch Day event, she never would have thought to sit with someone she doesn't know during lunch.
“I sat by two new girls at lunch today and I am happy people are going around and asking people to sit with them,” she shared.
Parson says that the positive student reaction to Mix it Up Day does not surprise her.
“Typically, middle school students are a little resistant about doing this type of thing but our Piner students were open to it,” she explained. “For them to realize that this small act can be huge for some students makes you feel like you are doing something right.”
Eric says that he thinks he will now occasionally ‘mix it up’ at lunch in the future.
“I met a guy that I probably would not have met if I would have kept my same routine,” he shared. “For our school to think of this encourages me to improve on myself and change things up.”
Hailey shared the same sentiments.
“I think this can change people and help everyone make new friends.”