The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program has named Indian Hills Middle School a 2012 Mix It Up Model School for exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among students. Indian Hills is one of 77 schools nationwide to receive the honor.
“Mix It Up Model Schools have found innovative ways to create a school environment where respect and inclusiveness are core values,” Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello said. “They serve as examples for other schools hoping to instill these values in their students, faculty and staff.”
Mix It Up Day provides students with opportunities to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. The simple action can have big results, as studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice, Teaching Tolerance reports. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions. Last year, 5,500 schools took part in the event.
Mix it Up Model Schools have met five criteria set by the Teaching Tolerance program: Host a Mix it Up at Lunch Day in 2011; include the school’s community in organizing the event; follow up with at least two more Mix It Up-related programs or events; publicize Mix It Up at Lunch Day with posters, announcements and other media; and host events viewed as successful by students and school officials.
“Unique activities help make Mix It Up at Lunch Day special at Indian Hills,” the Teaching Tolerance Web site states. “In February, students search out unfamiliar classmates to sign their paper hearts and share a unique character trait. The school also brings in a cultural educator from a local university to help with activities.”
As part of the recognition, Indian Hills is listed on SPLC’s Web site, and its experience will be weaved into the nonprofit’s guidance for the Oct. 30, 2012 Mix It Up at Lunch Day event.