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Post Middle School mixes it up

In back from left, Post Middle School eighth-grade Natural Helpers Allanah Hoobler, Brook Stalkfleet, Kathryn Spear and Jennifer Anderson facilitate a conversation between sixth-graders during the schools Mix It Up at Lunch day Nov. 13. -
In back from left, Post Middle School eighth-grade Natural Helpers Allanah Hoobler, Brook Stalkfleet, Kathryn Spear and Jennifer Anderson facilitate a conversation between sixth-graders during the schools Mix It Up at Lunch day Nov. 13.
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ARLINGTON Post Middle School students took part in a nationwide effort to break down social barriers by mixing it up during lunch Nov. 13.
The Mix It Up at Lunch day is a project started by the Southern Poverty Law Centers Teaching Tolerance program. Nancy Burns, one of the Natural Helper advisors at Post, explained how it works.
Its a simple call to action; take a new seat in the cafeteria, Burns said. By making the move, students can cross the lines of division, meet new people and make new friends.
With the assistance of a dozen Natural Helpers, students who were voted by their peers to be good advice-givers, Mix It Up divided each of the three lunch periods sixth, seventh and eighth grades into a dozen different color groupings, by marking their hands with different colored Xs and having them sit at lunch tables with matching colors of paper.
This is our first year doing this, Burns said, as Natural Helpers wandered from table to table to talk with the students. Its goals of fighting hate and promoting tolerance really tie into our school districts civility campaign. Our sixth-graders especially have been really excited about it.
Once students were mixed up by being seated at different tables, with different peers than they were accustomed to, the Natural Helpers asked them questions about such subjects as their birthdays and their favorite songs and sports teams, to start conversations between the students and identity things they had in common.
They found out it was really fun, said seventh-grade Natural Helper Victoria Spelman. Before it happened, a few of them thought it would be stupid.
Fellow seventh-grade Natural Helper Erin Peek admitted that some students were stubborn about which tables they wanted to sit at, but all the Natural Helpers agreed that a number of new friendships were made during Mix it Up.
It was great to get to know them, and to see them getting to know each other, Spelman said. Id catch myself comparing the younger kids conversations to ours when we were their age.
I enjoyed talking to the kids, said seventh-grade Natural Helper Ty Byle. We made new friends, too.

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