No Place for Hate lunch
Special lunch at PCMS
Sixth-graders participate in a lunch with a twist
Lunch period on Oct. 22 was a bit different for the sixth-graders at Port Chester Middle School
Rather than the normal rush of students trying to find a seat with a friend and catch up on the latest news, students were randomly assigned seats. Suddenly they were eating with classmates they may have never met before or did not know their names.
The exercise was part of the annual “No Place for Hate” experience, a week-long initiative that promotes an anti-bullying environment in schools.
Before lunch began, students were given an orange card which had a specific characteristic written on it. They might be sitting at a table representing loyalty or kindness or perseverance or honesty. When they arrived in the cafeteria, they had to find the table with the matching characteristic as their card, which was displayed with a bright yellow floral centerpiece.
Each table had a card on it with a list of conversation starters to help students get to know one another. They also were asked to write their name on the paper tablecloth and to add an inspirational message.
“Be Kind” “Be Respectful” and “Smile Forever” were just some of the messages students wrote.
“Sixth-graders are broken up into three academies. It’s quite possible they may have never met who they will be sitting with,” School Counselor Katie Smook said just before students arrived for lunch.
“I’m excited to meet new people,” student Jahmeer Furman said as he waited in line to get his lunch.
“It’s interesting,” student Christopher Arivmendi said of the seating arrangement. “You get to meet new people.”
As the lunch period progressed, students were having conversations with their new friends about their likes and dislikes, and sharing information about their pets, among other things.
“I was a little nervous,” Gladis Castro said about the possibility of eating with students she may not know. “I didn’t think I would get to sit with anyone I know.”
Her fears were alleviated when, in addition to some new faces, she found her friend Cynthia Bautista also sitting at her table.
The two girls said this exercise was fun.