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Westfield Students Cross Social Boundaries at Mix It Up Day

Lorre Korecky

Monday, November 25, 2013 • 6:09pm

The entire student body at Edison Intermediate School in Westfield participated in Mix It Up Day on November 22, joining more than one million students across the country to help break down social barriers. 

“Mix It Up is a positive way to improve inter-group relations so there are fewer misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment,” explained sixth grade counselor Kimberly Lisnock.

The day began with a school-wide assembly at Edison Intermediate School where Dr. Mykee Fowlin, a psychologist and actor, was guest speaker.  According to Lisnock, “Dr. Fowlin knows how to use humor to talk about hot topics pertaining to social acceptance. He encouraged our students to be more than tolerant – to be empathetic and to be friends.”

Eighth grader Nicholas Wojno-Oranski’s favorite part of the day was Dr. Fowlin’s assembly.  “I liked how he informed people how each one of us affects other people’s lives,” stated Nicholas.

Edison’s Assistant Principal, David Duelks, added, “It was a powerful assembly.  Afterwards hordes of kids went up to him to say thank you; some gave him hugs.”

Following the assembly, teacher-facilitated discussion groups took place when students reported to their regularly scheduled classes.

Lunchtime took on a festive atmosphere as student leaders from the school’s TLRNC group (Teens Learning Respect ‘N Compassion) and the Student Government Association led games and encouraged conversation at grade level tables in the cafeteria. “During lunch, we asked students to move out of their comfort zone and sit with someone new at lunch,” explained Lisnock. “Studies have shown that when students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.  Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that’s where a school’s social boundaries are most obvious,” added Lisnock.

Validating that approach, TLRNC leader Saranya Turimella took notice of her table of eighth graders: “They have been going to school for years but don’t necessarily know each other.  We want to make school a nice place and to be a focus on tolerance.”

One eighth grader, Morgan Miovski, offered her enthusiasm by saying, “Mix It Up Day is a great way for students to meet new friends.  And I love it!”

After lunch, the entire student body and staff participated in team-building games, mixing students from the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth grades.  “These games are intended to encourage, unify and strengthen relationships throughout our building,” stated Matthew Bolton, the school’s Principal.

The day ended with more than 850 students and staff breaking out in dance. 

This was the first time that a full day was devoted to Mix It Up Day at Edison. The counselors – Kerri Webster, Lori DeMuro, and Lisnock -- began the planning last year and are hoping to continue with a full day every year. Explained Lisnock, “It is a great way to celebrate our differences and to accept our shared experiences.”

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