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Draper mixing it up

We've all seen movies and television shows that take place in high schools where the cafeteria scene pops up, with tables filled by youths separated by every stereotype in the bag. At one table is a group of students who share the same ethnicity or gender; there is the popular table, the "jock" table, the table filled with members from the math club, and so on.

Unfortunately, if you walk into the cafeterias of most real schools, those same separations hold true, but efforts are being made by school administrators, teachers and students to stir things up and make everyone feel a little more welcome.

On Thursday, Nov. 13, Draper Middle School in Rotterdam will be participating with schools nationwide in the annual Mix it Up at Lunch program.

The concept is simple: On Thursday, when students enter the cafeteria to eat lunch, they will be forced to sit with people whom they wouldn't otherwise eat lunch with. However, there's a method behind mixing the students up " the organizers of the program understand that it's not just going to happen naturally.

"This year we're going to do it by the color of their tops but without them knowing. They never know because every year we try to change it so that way they just do it as opposed to knowing or preparing for it," said Maria Pacheco, a teacher at Draper Middle School and a Mix it Up at Lunch organizer.

Pacheco and other program organizers are going to cover each table in the cafeteria with a different color tablecloth. Students will be separated by the color of their shirts, but they won't find this out until they come to school and it's too late to change. Last year, Pacheco and her team handed out playing cards " students had to sit with other students who held cards with matching suits.

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