Nice to meet you: East Rowan students break the ice with Mix-it-Up lunch

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Getting to know new people isn’t always easy, but the East Rowan High Diversity Club came up with a way to make it fun.

Club members organized the Mix-it-Up luncheon with Rowan-Salisbury Schools Teacher of the Year Rachel Moysan to create a safe and understanding space for students to meet people from different grade levels, peer groups and cultural backgrounds.

The idea stemmed from the Learning for Justice website’s “Mix it Up at Lunch Day,” an international campaign encouraging students to identify, question and cross-cultural backgrounds. Learning for Justice is a free resource for educators to help create inclusive communities.

Diversity Club member Kianna Roberts indicated that the luncheon was intended to promote and showcase what the organization is all about.

“(Moysan) thought this would be a good idea because Diversity Club was relatively new,” Roberts said. “(COVID prevented us from having the luncheon in 2020), but we have tried to pull it back up. Last year, when we did it, we had like seven members, but it seemed to be a good way to get people to join.”

Aside from a recruitment aspect, the luncheon paired students from the school that might never have had a conversation otherwise.

“That was the whole point,” Roberts said.

Around 80 East Rowan students gathered in the media center for the event, which according to Roberts’ ran the gamut from first-year students to seniors.

Participants entered the room but were greeted by club members at the check-in table. Then they were assigned a table by receiving a little scribble of color on their hand, which matched tablecloths around the room and matched up with other students from various groups throughout the school.

Diversity Club members were hopeful that by hosting this lunch, participants would find something in common with someone they did not previously know.

Katlyn Seaford is just starting at East Rowan High but is already active in Diversity Club, Art Club and Gaming Club. Participation in those recreational activities, notably Diversity Club, has opened many doors for her.

“Diversity Club has meant a lot because I have met some people I didn’t think I was ever going to talk to,” Seaford said.

Seaford remarked that she enjoyed the lunch event because it paired up so many different people.

“It was just a really positive time,” Seaford said. “There were a ton of people there, and it felt like bringing a ton of people together to share different foods and Diversity Club’s (message).”

Diversity Club members prepared the various dishes, many sprinkling in their cultural flair.

“We are a pretty diverse club, with a lot of different cultures and ethnicities,” Roberts said. “When we brought up the idea of bringing food, someone asked if we could bring cultural food, and Moysan said that would be perfect. So, a lot of students brought food that was part of their culture.”

For her part, Roberts prepared cheese empanadas.

Roberts is optimistic about how the luncheon might promote diversity-club registration.

“We have a meeting next month, so we will see if any new people signed up,” Roberts said. “I think it effectively showed the point of the diversity club and what we are trying to do for our school.”

Roberts explained that setting the bar high for acceptance should always be on everyone’s minds.

“I feel like in our school, there are a lot of students who aren’t accepting of other people,” Roberts said. “I feel like being in an area and showing that there is a safe space in school where you won’t be ridiculed for it is really important.”

The Diversity Club instructor, Rachel Moysan, pointed out that during such a pivotal juncture of their lives, students in high school are in the midst of much self-discovery.

“It can be a hard age when you are trying to figure out who you want to be,” Moysan said. “Unfortunately, something in society tells you that you have to fit in this certain box.”

Moysan teaches numerous social students subjects at East Rowan High, from world history to geography to a course on the Holocaust.

Moysan added that the message of Diversity Club and the Mix-it-Up lunch is simple and aims to help teenagers dealing with a tough time in their lives.

“I am hopeful that participants would be a little kinder in the halls and display a little more empathy when realizing we are a lot more alike than we are different,” Moysan said.

The lunch championed that philosophy. With Diversity Club’s help, Moysan plans to host a larger version of the event for the entire school in the spring.