Middle school students choose to eat lunch with others to break down cliques and social barriers.

On December 13, 163 of the school’s roughly 200 seventh- and eighth-graders participated in Carlynton’s first ever “Mix It Up” Day.

The idea for the day came from special education teacher Maggie Wilson, who had participated in a similar event while working at a school in Erie. Mix It Up Day is a nationwide project of Teaching Tolerance, with the goal of promoting acceptance and understanding among students by learning about their classmates.

Teachers were looking for an activity to do with eighth-graders in English after the students finished reading “The Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton.

In the book, “there were two different major friend groups and some of the people in The Outsiders intertwined, even though they were in different friend groups,” said eighth-grader Chikamso Orji, 13. “I guess Mix It Up Day was kind of like that.”

The goal was for students to sit with classmates they never hang out with during lunch in an effort to break down social barriers and cliques.