As the children got ready to settle down with their lunches Friday, they didn't head toward their usual groups of friends.
Instead, the Silverthorne Elementary students were given a colored card, looked around the cafeteria, and found the dining table with the corresponding color. The result? Children sat with other children they hadn't talked to before.
The event is the school's fourth annual Mix-It-Up lunch, and the goal is to get students to sit with new people. The idea is that when they get to know people, it breaks down social barriers and helps them to be more open-minded about differences.
In the morning announcements, principal Dianna Hulbert said they talked about being open-minded and meeting new people.
"We wanted people to get to know people," said fifth-grader Logan Simpson, who helped plan the event along with her classmates. The fifth-graders made signs for each table, where they listed questions like "what's the nicest thing you did for your friends," or "tell me about a time when you went somewhere else," to help facilitate conversation.
"If you sit with one person, you kind of learn their ways ... and when you see other people do different things, you can sometimes think that's weird," Simpson said. "So it's good to learn different ways."
Simpson heard about the pet of one of her new tablemates, and found out that many of them really enjoy math.
Fifth-grader Victoria Nickel also sat with new people Friday, and learned that most of her new friends really like ice cream, as well as to play.
"I think it's good to meet new people," fifth-grader Fanta Maguiraga said. "You might be different."
The event not only helps down social separation and promotes new friends, but is done in schools around the country in order to help prevent bullying, according to school counselor Anne Watts. Over the past few years it's been held at Silverthorne, students have found new companions outside their usual social group.
"We've seen new friendships form," Watts said.