High school has often been superficially described as “clique-ish.”
The jocks hang out with other jocks (ditto for the cheerleaders), nerds and geeks hang out usually near a science classroom, and the rest of the social groups are grouped in a similar fashion.
Movies and sitcom television shows have long used this idea, but, surprisingly there is an element of truth to it.
Students have been known to self-segregate.
It even happens in college.
People are just used to sitting around those they feel comfortable with.
That’s how new friendships are formed, based on a shared interest, similar backgrounds and views.
Experts have weighed in on such behavior stating that although it’s necessary to forge such relationships, the behavior becomes toxic when people begin to exclude others based on race, nationality and gender.
Hawthorne High School is aiming to change this.
“Mix it Up Day” is a new program geared towards high school students for them to step outside of their social parameters and talk to new people.
The program was developed to ease racial tensions, as well as to help students foster an understanding of their fellow classmate.
Students are encouraged to sit and talk with someone that on a regular basis during their everyday high school life, they would never sit next to.
The program has been a mild success so far with grades K-6 and has included mixers, scavenger hunts and bingo games.
It’s sort of reminiscent of John Hughes beloved film “The Breakfast Club.”
Except with “Mix it Up Day” these students are not being reprimanded, nor are Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy going to make a cameo.
What made Hughes’ film so wildly successful and still loved today, is that people are naturally interested in people who are different from them.
Yet, due to the “cruel politics” of high school, people never get that chance to strike up a conversation with their classmates.
This carries onto college as well, where it is assumed that people will be more willing to open up, after all this is the environment to step out of the “comfort zone.”
Which is what the developers of the “Mix it Up Day” program hopes to achieve.
The program is undoubtedly a good idea.
If students who are leaving high school only have one dimensional outlooks on people, situations and the dynamics of life, well, they’re going to get quite the rude awakening when they enter college.
Aside from the great social effects this program offers, it can also save someone’s life.
Recently it was reported that a young girl was sexually assaulted at Richmond High School, in California.
As the assault took place, more than several students stood idle and did not interfere with the crime that was taking place.
The reasoning that some of these students used in defense of their moronic behavior was that she was not part of their “group.”
In other words because they did not know her on a friendly basis, or even a classmate basis, they felt justified in not helping another person. Incidents like this could have been prevented.
If a program like “Mix it Up Day” can reach out to students to see their classmates not only as classmates but as people just like them, the results will be far-reaching.
In this climate of social tension, small steps are pivotal, but vital.
And while the program is reaching small but successful steps, some leaps still need to be made.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Carson High School US History teacher Merri Weir stated “My philosophy is every one is connected. The person who you’re shunning because you think they’re weird could be the person who changes your life.”