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"No One Eats Alone" day at Ferber Elementary

Students at Ferber Elementary were seated by a color coding system during lunch on 2/12/16, in order to be able to meet some new friends. (WLUK/Alexa Santos)

The lunchroom at school can be a challenging place for some students.

But an elementary school in Appleton is joining a national movement to keep kids from eating alone.

During lunch Friday at Ferber Elementary School in Appleton, the students were put in new groups based on a color coded system.

Second grader Olivia Stephenson, said, "It's good so far. I was a little worried that I didn't really want to do it. But I made a new friend today, so it was good."

It's part of a national effort, called "No One Eats Alone," which promotes acceptance and inclusion of all students.

Beth Mleziva, a sixth grade teacher, said, "It's something that is kind of a grassroots effort to prevent social isolation."

National "No One Eats Alone" day isn't just happening here at Ferber Elementary, it's taking place at schools all over the country.

Mleziva said, "I'm hoping it's a starting point. Our goal is to do it more than just once this year, even though this is the actual national day."

Amanda Kriewaldt, a fifth grade teacher, said, "This is a great way to teach students about accepting differences and reaching out beyond their own selves, and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to meet other students in class."

Which some students say should make a big difference.

Michael Mounajjed, a fifth grader, said, "Sometimes I see little and big kids, sometimes they're lonely, so when I see them at a table by themselves it sometimes is sad."

Claire Brewster, a fifth grader, said, "Some kids don't have friends and this way you can make new friends so they wont be lonely at lunch."

Kriewaldt said, "Students are comfortable with their own group of friends, and in a smaller group, and its sometimes hard to meet new people."

Stephenson says even though she was hesitant to not sit with her normal friends, it all worked out.

"My mom said if you make a new friend, I'll be very proud of you, and I made a new friend today," she said.

Ferber Elementary teachers say they hope the practice will continue not only in their own school, but in other local schools, too.

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