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Teaching Tolerance recognizes 104 schools for ‘Mix It Up at Lunch Day’ efforts

These schools found innovative ways to break down social barriers and  cultivate respect and inclusiveness.

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project today named 104 schools as Mix It Up Model Schools for their exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among students and throughout campus during the 2014-15 school year.

These schools participated in Teaching Tolerance’s signature event, Mix It Up at Lunch Day, which encourages students to break down social barriers by sitting  with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.

The event organizers at each school followed up with additional activities that encouraged students to cross social boundaries and be more inclusive and understanding throughout the school year. The schools are featured on the Teaching Tolerance website as examples to help other schools plan similar barrier-busting activities.

“We commend these schools for finding innovative ways to create environments where respect and inclusiveness are core values,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “Though these schools vary in size and demographics, they all serve as great examples of how a school – any school – can cultivate these values among their students, faculty and staff.”

As part of their Mix It Up efforts, each Model School included various individuals and groups from the school community in the planning and implementation of the event, 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. Teaching Tolerance offers 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.

Schools can register for the 2015 Mix It Up event now at www.tolerance.org/mix-it-up/add.

“We encourage all schools to participate,” Costello said.

Mix It Up at Lunch Day program began in 2002. Based on social psychology research, the initiative seeks to break down social barriers that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off yearlong explorations of social divisions.

Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. The program reaches hundreds of thousands of educators and millions of students annually through its Teaching Tolerance magazine, multimedia teaching kits, online curricula, professional development resources and classroom-friendly social justice documentaries. These materials are provided to educators at no cost.