Two Canyons middle schools have received national honors for their sustained efforts to promote tolerance and inclusiveness within the school community. Albion and Indian Hills Middle Schools are the only two Utah schools to be named 2013 National Mix It Up Model Schools by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program. Sixty-three schools nationwide received the honor.
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, more than 3,000 schools nationwide 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 2012; 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. Students at Indian Hills Middle School hosted a second Mix It Up event, complete with a mariachi band. Students at Albion Middle School formed a “Thriller” flash mob, wrote acrostic poems based on the letters in Mix It Up, and found other creative ways to engage students’ bodies and minds.