Lunchtime looked a little different in at least 7,000 school cafeterias on Tuesday, November 18 — the second national Mix It Up at Lunch Day.
Sponsored by the Center's Teaching Tolerance programs and by the Study Circles Resource Center, Mix It Up at Lunch Day challenged students to step out of their cafeteria comfort zones for a single day, to take new seats and to see what would happen.
In elementary schools and colleges, from Alabama to Washington, an estimated four hundred thousand students accepted the challenge.
Jenna, a student at New York's St. John the Baptist High School, was among them.
"Normally the whole lunchroom is divided by grade level. NOT TODAY!," she reported. "Students ate lunch in the faculty room and teachers ate lunch in the cafe. Seniors openly sat with freshmen (not a common site at all!) I must say something [started] in our school that will continue on for years. Thank you Mix It Up Day!"
Georgia high school student Chika Oduah described Mix Day this way: "The sophomores talked with seniors, the students with the rainbow-colored hair talked with the cheerleaders, the jocks talked to the poets, and so on ... Mix It Up at Lunch Day is a foundation needed for social unity. It is a seed of a harvest that will bring forth great fruits of enlightenment and change. "
Change is exactly what Mix It Up at Lunch Day organizers are hoping for.
A 2002 Mix It Up survey showed that a majority of middle and high school students believed their schools were "quick to put people into categories," and almost half of respondents admitted that they had rejected someone from outside their own social group.
"Social boundaries like these can create divisions and misunderstandings in our schools, but students and their adult allies can help form safe, welcoming schools," said Kelvin Datcher, director of Teaching Tolerance. "The goal of Mix It Up is to help make that possible."
For full coverage of 2003 Mix It Up at Lunch Day, visit www.mixitup.org.