Staff and students adopt nationally recognized lunch campaign to break down social barriers
Loveland, Ohio – Loveland Middle School (LMS) served up a social opportunity in the cafeteria Thursday, Oct. 15, with a debut of the Mix It Up at Lunch campaign – the first of monthly lunches where kids and LMS staff will sit together in the cafeteria. The kickoff lunch involved a shape sort where students and staff were given shapes as they entered the cafeteria in order to find the table identified by the same shape. As the year continues, the goal of LMS staff is to facilitate less formally organized mix ups and encourage students’ willingness to cross social boundaries and meet new friends.
[quote_left]“Students often find the cafeteria a paralyzing environment,” said Jennifer Ramage”[/quote_left]I think it’s a pretty good idea because kids can meet new friends if they don’t have any,” said LMS Eighth Grade Student Lara Pulliam. “Also, even if they already have a friend, it gives them an opportunity to include someone new in their group.”
“It was so awesome to see such a great example of Loveland trying to be more for all our children,” said LMS Teacher Anita Winning. “Helping all our students and staff to step out of their comfort zone is how we help them to grow. What a great teachable moment and how neat it was to see people meeting new students.”
[quote_right]Monthly mixers will promote meeting new people[/quote_right]”Students often find the cafeteria a paralyzing environment,” said LMS Teacher and Mix It Up Organizer Jennifer Ramage. “They may worry about with whom they will sit or perceive they are the object of other students’ conversations as a result of sitting alone. Monthly mixers will promote meeting new people and the possibility of broadening existing friendship groups.”
The LMS lunches are an extension of the Mix It Up at Lunch Day campaign held annually by Teaching Tolerance. Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.
[quote_left]Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.[/quote_left]“What a great concept!” said Tara Schamel, a mother of seventh grade twins. “Learning to stretch your comfort zone is an important skill to develop. Initiating and developing friendships with kids you don’t normally hang out with exposes you to new experiences, opinions, and interests. I love that the LMS staff is always rolling out new programs to create a positive climate for social and moral growth.”
“Middle school is an environment where it is very hard to break outside of the social boundaries,” said LMS Principal Chris Burke. “A monthly mix up provides students an opportunity to change up their routine and meet some new faces. By incorporating everyone, including the teachers, we are able to break down some social walls and give students skills they otherwise may not acquire until much later in life. It is also much less ‘risky’ for students to take these steps since we are all doing this together.”
The program runs through May of this school year.