Lunch at Milton M. Somers Middle School was a little mixed up Tuesday, Oct. 25. Instead of taking their usual seats, students were asked to sit at tables representing the color of the paper wristband they wore.
If a wristband is pink, you sit at the pink table. If a student has a band with green smiley faces on it, she heads to the corresponding table. That’s when things got interesting.
During Mix It Up Day — when groups of students sit with others who they ordinarily wouldn’t — a list of opened ended questions was left on tables to get conversations started.
“What’s your favorite food?” “Android or Apple?” “If you could be a kitchen appliance, what would you be?” Groups of kids dived in and maybe made new friends.
“It’s good to expand your knowledge of other people,” said Grace Giles, a seventh grader. Others at her table agreed. “This helps to expand your social circle,” seventh grader Devoni Gale said. “It gets you out of your comfort zone,” Mariah Winward, a seventh grader, chimed in.
Eighth graders Justin Vogt and Travis Pritchett never really talked to each other before, but throughout lunch they laughed and found out they had some things in common.
“I thought I wouldn’t like him,” Vogt said. “But we like a lot of the same things.” It’s enough that the boys will likely say “Hi” to each other in the hallways. It’s a start.
It’s not an accident Mix It Up Day is held during National Bullying Prevention Month. “Socializing happens in the cafeteria,” said Sonia Matthew, administrative assistant at Somers. The lunch event lets students know, “you don’t have to associate with just the people you know,” she said.
The school held other anti-bullying events including inviting guest speaker, Doug Reavis, to talk about “Silent Strength,” a Spirit Week and decorating paper footprints that were displaying throughout Somers in an effort to “Stomp out bullying.”
To help with the Mix It Up program and to keep the conversations flowing, McDonald’s representatives of the Welburn Organization, Parris Stedman, marketing manager, and Oscaletta Pullom, executive assistant, gave out BOG — Be Our Guest — vouchers for free apple slices. “When we heard what [Somers] was doing we said, ‘This is something we have to do,’” Stedman said. Pullom said she saw most of the students engaging in conversations. “The kids have been good with it,” she said.
Giles said other schools should “mix it up.”
“This is what you do when you grow up,” she said. “You have to adapt and meet new people.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.