Tuesday, February 01, 2000

Mix it up at Lunch (Full Story)

Solon student's lunch plan: Add a dose of tolerance to menu

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Scott Stephens
Plain Dealer Columnist
Solon Middle School students will be eating lunch today with kids whom they may have never talked to before.
It's part of Mix It Up at Lunch, an event organized by eighth-grader Nathan Lapin. One day last year, Nathan saw a new student sit down for lunch at a table full of other kids. The group told the new kid that he couldn't join them.
"It got me thinking that kids often make judgments against people they don't even know," Nathan, 13, said.
In search of ideas on how to foster tolerance and combat bullying, Nathan searched the Internet and came upon the Web site for "Mix It Up," a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program. There, he found ideas about how to introduce a Mix It Up day at school that would encourage students to tear down social boundaries. Last year, more than 9,000 schools across the country participated in the fourth annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day.
Last spring, Nathan brought the idea to Student Council. In recent weeks, he has helped distribute fliers and student surveys about the event. Some surveys will be placed on the lunch tables today so students can discuss their classmates' responses.
Student Council adviser Tim Cain lauds Nathan's efforts. "He has organized so much of this himself," Cain said. "He is very passionate about this."
Nathan, who serves on Student Council's new multicultural committee this year, says he thinks Mix It Up will improve the school environment.
"When we go out into the real world, we'll have to relate to a lot of different people -- we might as well start now," he said.

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