SUMMIT, NJ - The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program has named Kent Place School as a "Mix It Up Model School" for its exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among its students, and throughout its campus, during the 2014-15 school year.

Kent Place is one of 104 schools nationwide to receive the honor.

“We are delighted to recognize Kent Place School,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “Mix It Up Model Schools have found innovative ways to create school environments where respect and inclusiveness are core values. They all serve as great examples of how a school — any school — can cultivate these values among their students, faculty and staff.”

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Kent Place was given this distinction by participating in the school’s own "Mix It Up at Lunch Day." The event, created by the Teaching Tolerance program, is a simple call to action, asking students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch.

The event encourages students to identify, question, and cross social boundaries. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off year-long explorations of social divisions.

After hearing about this initiative from Kent Place Primary School Clinical Psychologist Marie Hays, Middle School Dean Donna Ray created a Mix It Up at Lunch event for Middle School students. Ray created 18 different lunch tables and assigned approximately nine girls to each table. The girls were assigned to their tables based on something they had in common, and their goal was to figure out what this commonality was by the end of the lunch period.

“It was exciting to see that Kent Place was voted as a Mix It Up Model School,” stated Ray. We love seeing the students mingle during lunch with others that they may not normally sit with.”

Ray said the event was a huge success and the girls have asked if the event can happen again.