Last Thursday November 13th, Tower Hill upper school students joined more than 4 million others across the country to challenge social and racial boundaries as part of the seventh annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a project designed to foster respect and understanding in schools and communities.
Mix It Up encourages students to question and cross boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.
More than 8,000 schools participated in this year's program, which is sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project.
"This year, Mix It Up Day has a special significance because of the historic election of Barack Obama as the first black president," said Mix It Up Director Samantha Elliott Briggs. "Students across America are very excited about doing their part to tear down the walls that divide us."
Student organizers say that Mix It Up at Lunch Day successfully encourages students to cross group lines and meet new people; helps foster school spirit and unity; raises awareness about social boundaries; helps students make new friends; and makes students feel more comfortable interacting with different kinds of people.
Tower Hill's Mix It Up event was different this year. Instead of having teacher table leaders, the upper school Diversity Club decided to have one or two student leaders in charge of one lunch table of about 8-9 students. Teachers were assigned tables in which they "mixed-it-up" and participated in the event's discussion among colleagues.
Khaalid Lucas, 10th grade and Vice-President of the Diversity Club, thougth that this year's event was a lot smoother than in recent years. "Students seemed more engaged and willing to talk. Topics that never grow old were thoroughly discussed and everyone got a real chance to broaden their horizons. Brief and respective inquiries about race, religion, sexual preference among other topics brought students together that wouldn't normally come together. "
As a table leader, Khaalid had the sole privilege of leading the discussion. He stated: "I found out things about people that I consider myself pretty close to, but I also learned a few interesting facts about people that I have only exchanged a few words with. For example, I learned of one girl's German ancestry as well as another girl’s Italian ancestry. When announcements were made, signaling the end of lunch, the students at my table were as astounded as I was. Many wished that lunch wouldn’t be over, in hopes that we could further out our discussion."