The Mix it Up at Lunch program was started through an organization called Teaching Tolerance, which is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and, of course, teaching tolerance. They supply schools throughout the country with free educational materials to help reach the organization's goals.
"They started doing the lunch by inviting students to take a different seat because they had found through research and surveys with [students] that cafeterias are where most of the cliques become apparent. That's where the separation really comes in," said Pacheco.
"They announced these programs where kids can sit in a different seat outside your comfort zone, meet someone new, or meet that kid who doesn't talk to anyone," said Pacheco.
Last year, millions of students at more than 10,000 schools participated nationwide. The lunch is a schoolwide effort that involves students, teachers, counselors, staff, administrators and school clubs. In Draper Middle School's case, it is the club Peers for Peace.
"Every year we do something different, and the kids tend to look after bullying and intolerance. I think the kids in the Peers for Peace program, as well as the other students put a lot of effort toward [the lunch], and I think the kids really get a lot out of it," said Tricia Saulo, a teacher at Draper Middle School and program organizer. "It's a fun day and the kids seems learn a lot from participating in the activities."
The project doesn't just involve sitting with students you wouldn't normally sit with, though. There's a second part. Pacheco and Paulo have teamed up with other teachers and staff members at the school to build a "wall of tolerance" out of different materials, including index cards. Before the lunch, students are going to write on each index card an anonymous note about an instance where they have experienced some sort of bullying (whether they bullied someone or were on the receiving end). The notes will then be stuck to the wall. During each lunch session " there are three " students will remove the index cards and discuss what is written on them with the peers they are sitting with.