By: Allison Scott
For WCHS 7, Charleston-Huntington WV

One Kanawha County middle school is taking a proactive approach to bullying prevention. They’re doing that by mixing up the seats in the lunchroom and making sure that no one sits alone. Allie Rosen, who’s in sixth grade at South Charleston Middle School, sat at her assigned lunch table on Thursday waiting for her classmates to join. Assigned seats at lunch may not be the norm, but once a week at South Charleston Middle School it is.

“Just looking at other people and seeing that they’re not sitting alone, it makes me feel 100 times better,” said Allie Rosen, who’s the Student State Representative for [Be Strong].

The school is part of the Be Strong – We Dine Together program. Students at the middle school get personal invitations to lunch, and in the cafeteria, there are lists on the table where students will sit. “We see students sitting together, having conversations. Not that noise level is an issue at lunch, but it is a quieter day because there’s meaningful conversations going on instead of chaotic chatter,” said Carolyn DeBord, who’s a teacher at South Charleston Middle School. The program is one way the school is trying to prevent bullying.

“I had seen that no one was sitting with this particular student, I started eating lunch in the lunchroom and I sat down with him. After a week, there were so many students at the table, I lost my seat,” DeBord said.

The bonds students have formed isn’t confined to just the lunchroom. “I definitely feel like it’s done a lot,” said Rosen. “The more it’s gone on, the more used to it people have gotten. They really started opening up to other people.” Rosen said she’s seen less people sitting alone since the program officially started at her school in March. “[I’ve] seen a lot of people, like in school work, that never would have grouped up in the beginning that are now like best friends,” Rosen said. Although Rosen has a few more years in the middle school cafeteria, she hopes when she gets to high school she can continue the We Dine Together program and make sure no one eats alone.

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