Peer Leadership Pic Oct 2012Student Peer Leaders at Rumson-Fair haven Regional High School met last year to discuss the Mix It Up at Lunch” event and other activities associated with friendship and respect. Similar activities are planned for this year as well. (click to enlarge)

Students at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School will once again join more than one million others across the country by taking part in the 12th annual “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” on October 29.

RFH has participated in the event, designed to help break down social and racial barriers, since its inception in 2002.

‘Mix It Up at Lunch Day’ is a great way to meet students who you’ve never met before and make new friends,” said Jeremy Susser, a Senior at RFH and a member of the Peer Leaders student organization.

The event, launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, encourages students to dine with a new and unfamiliar group for just one day. The cafeteria was chosen by the Teaching Tolerance organization as the focus of “Mix It Up” activities because that is where they feel a school’s social boundaries are most obvious.

At R-FH, Peer Leaders will randomly distribute colored paper to all students as they enter the cafeteria. The students will then be requested to sit at the lunch table with the balloon that matches the color of the paper they were given.

“’Mix It Up at Lunch’ 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,” said Maureen Costello, the Director of the nationwide Teaching Tolerance organization.  “When people step out of their cliques and get to know someone, they realize just how much they have in common.”

As in years past, RFH staff and students have planned meaningful events leading up to “Mix It Up at Lunch Day.”

On September 26, student Peer Leaders presented information about support groups and Student Assistance Counselor programs to freshman students at RFH.

During the state-designated Week of Respect from October 7 -11, Peer Leaders participated in mediation and conflict resolution training. In addition, posters promoting respect will be displayed throughout the school, and students will be encouraged to identify and publicize acts of respect from teachers, coaches, advisors, fellow students, and family members.

The RFH Peer Leaders, a student organization dedicated to being role models for their fellow students, organized this year’s “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” event with support from student members of RFH Character Education Club and RFH Gay-Straight Alliance.

The Southern Poverty Law Center established the Teaching Tolerance organization in 1991 to provide educators with free resources designed to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for the nation’s children.