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Mixing It Up in the Middle School

 

This or that: ice cream or cake?

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?

On Wednesday, October 30th, the Middle School kicked off the Mix It Up Lunch series, answering important questions, like those above, and breaking down social barriers in the process. Mix It Up lunches are a program of Teaching Tolerance. They encourage students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over a meal. In the first Mix It Up Lunch of this school year, students were seated in groups at random and got to enjoy new friends over discussions of cake vs. ice cream. One Mix It Up Lunch took place last spring, but October 30th kicked off a school year of these lunches with one planned per marking period.

School lunch, particularly school lunch in Middle School, is a time when social divides are strongly defined.  By purposefully breaking down social boundaries with randomly arranged seating and thought-provoking questions, we can make all students feel accepted and safe at school. Students learn the important life skills of breaking down boundaries. Students new to the community also have the opportunity to meet new friends without the divisions of cliques.

In order to prepare for this lunch, students took part in Pre-Mix It Up advisory lessons. Sixth, seventh and eight graders focused on achieving the goals of being able to identify the social boundaries at BFS and reflecting on the benefits of crossing these boundaries. Together they discussed the concepts of hard and soft social walls and how to navigate these ideas in practice. Fifth graders, because they did not experience last school year’s inaugural Mix It Up Lunch, focused their advisory lesson on cliques in schools. They sought to recognize the cliques at BFS, explore ways to integrate all students and form new friendships, and learn how to communicate with people outside of their friendship group/cliques.

In their feedback and reflections following the lunch, students shared:

  • “I talked with people I don’t normally talk to.”
  • “I think it provided the opportunity for us to do something out of our comfort zone, which was great.”
  • “Talking to new people was a positive experience for me.”
  • “I think that everyone was split up randomly into groups, but I liked the way that people were not isolated, and everyone had someone in their group that they were at least friends with but didn´t spend all their time with usually.”

There are exciting plans for the upcoming Mix It Up Lunches. Students will enjoy meals with students from all grades in the Middle School. At another Lunch, they will work to create new “ice breaker” questions. We can’t wait to read what they come up with!

Do you have questions about Mix It Up Lunches at Brooklyn Friends School? Contact Kathleen Clinchy, Middle School Dean of Students, and Yelena Remus, Middle School Counselor.