HALLOWELL — Students at Hall-Dale Elementary School recently joined more than one million other students across the country to help break down social and racial barriers by participating in the 14th annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

The event, launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project in 2002, encourages students to sit with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious. Many schools plan similar barrier-busting activities throughout the day. Some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.

Students in kindergarten though grade five mixed it up at lunch. When students entered the cafeteria for their lunch period, they randomly chose colored tags from a container. They then located the table with the same color balloons. Members from Hall-Dale High School Key Club joined in.

“Mix It Up is a positive step that schools can take to help create learning environments where students see each other as individuals and not just as members of a separate group,” Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello said in a news release from the school. “When people step out of their cliques and get to know someone, they realize just how much they have in common.”

Hall-Dale Elementary School is comprised of students from both Hallowell and Farmingdale and has more than 350 students.

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