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No Place for Hate 2017  

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Students participate in the annual Mix It Up Lunch at WJSHS as part of No Place for Hate Week. The event is designed to encourage dialogue and friendships among peers who may not interact on a regular basis.

Annual Mix-it-Up Lunch moves students beyond comfort zone to connect with peers


No Place for Hate Week, Watervliet Junior/Senior High School hosted its fourth annual Mix-It-Up Lunch, an event that offers an opportunity for students to get to know peers who they may not interact with on a regular basis.

For Mix-It-Up Lunch, staff members and high school students facilitated introductions among the seventh- and eighth-graders who were seated randomly at tables in the cafeteria. Equipped with conversation starters, the small groups began the dialogue designed to have students learn more about each other. Special guest facilitators Mayor Michael Manning, Board of Education President Sheri Senecal and board members Heather Soroka and Mary Beth Whited also participated in initiating the student conversations during the event.

Principal Ryan Groat said Mix-it-Up Lunch is part of the school’s efforts to build a more positive and inclusive atmosphere for all students.

“Sure it can be a little intimidating at first to sit and talk with others you don't know all that well, but the purpose of events like this is to build an environment where everyone can feel safe and supported,” he said. “This experience is meant to move students out of their comfort zones, and hopefully recognize that each of us has more in common than we might think.”

About Mix It Up Lunch

Mix It Up Lunch is a national initiative launched more than a decade ago by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project. According to the SPLC website, this campaign encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

Schools across the country have implemented Mix-It-Up Lunch events that encourage students to sit with peers other than their regular circle of friends and engage in conversations. Cafeterias are often the center of Mix It Up events because that is the place where schools social boundaries are most easily identified.

No Place for Hate

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of New York introduced the No Place for Hate initiative to create inclusive school communities by promoting unity and respect, and empower students to reduce bullying, name-calling and other expressions of bias.

This year’s No Place for Hate Week at Watervliet Junior/Senior High School kicked off on Monday, October 23 with an assembly presented by the New York State Police Cyber Crimes Unit on cyber-bullying and Internet/social media safety.