Grade-schoolers now 'Mix It Up At Lunch'
December 9, 2004
 By Sarah Garrecht Gassen
Students at Davis Bilingual Magnet Elementary School are learning one-on-one that boys aren't always yucky, girls don't always like weird stuff and it's good to make new friends.
Davis students are participating in "Mix It Up At Lunch," which is organized through, a part of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Students who are in the same grade or classroom but don't normally hang out together are paired up by their teacher and eat lunch and do something together at recess for a week.
The students then write about their experiences in journals.
"It was very hard, because the first day my partner said her muscles were sore so we couldn't play a game," said fourth-grader Teo Ufford-Chase. "We talked, but we didn't know what to say or to talk about."
Girls and boys don't always play together at recess, students said.
"When girls hang out with boys, other kids call them boyfriend and girlfriend and that's annoying," Teo explained. "And girls like to play different games than boys."
Not necessarily true, according to Isabel Orozco, 9. She was paired with Francisco Martinez.
"He's kind of hard to talk to because I don't really talk to boys that much," Isabel said. "I learned that boys like football and flag football. I like flag football."
The common interest won admiration from Francisco.
"She likes to play boy sports, like football, and some girl games like 'popcorn' and dodgeball and tag," he said. "We practiced violin, too."
Many of the students at Davis Bilingual know each other through classes, but they may be in different social groups at lunch or during recess, said school counselor Teresa Toro. Davis students can spend their free time after lunch playing outdoors or practicing musical instruments.
"You have to learn how to get along and find common ground with other people," Toro said. "You can't be together as a group because you're boys or girls or one color."
Third-grader Adriana Dalton paired up with Gisela Ochoa, 8.
"She really likes to play cartoon tag," Adriana said. "You become friends by playing together."
Gisela's mom, Griselda Ochoa, said she's glad to see her daughter branch out.
"One of the things that really surprised me was that she was upset she wasn't able to play with her regular friend, and at the beginning it was a little hard for her, but after the second or third day she really enjoyed it, she would plan for it and what they would do at lunch," Griselda Ochoa said.
Fourth-grader Karen Denogean spent her lunch periods with Tiffany Rivera and Nathan Bacal. "I don't really hang out with them because Tiffany always goes to play guitar and Nathan always hangs out with his twin brother," Karen said. "I learned if Tiffany wants to go to guitar I can go with her and with Nathan I can invite his brother to play."
Tiffany said the group decided together what to do.
"I think it's really cool because I never thought it would be really fun to play with a boy," she said.
● Contact reporter Sarah Garrecht Gassen at 573-4117 or at