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Saturday, March 11, 2017

No One Sits / Eats Lunch Alone...
At one High School, No One Eats Lunch Alone

A group of high school students in Florida have dedicated part of their day to making sure their fellow classmates have some company at lunchtime.

A club called We Dine Together at Boca Raton Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, consists of students who roam their school’s courtyard during lunch looking for students who are eating alone. They then introduce themselves and get to know the students.

Denis Estimon, a Boca High senior who emigrated from Haiti in the first grade, is the founder of We Dine Together, a club that reaches out to fellow students during lunch to ensure that no one sits alone. He says having been the new kid before, he knows all too well how it feels to be excluded. And he doesn’t want any other kid to have to feel that way.
Denis tells Babble that upon moving the the U.S., he was very lonely. “There was a language barrier and then after school my mom was working and my dad was still in Haiti,” he explains. “It was a hard time.”
Yet the high schooler, who by all accounts seems very mature for his age, adds that his home situation “wasn’t that bad” — unlike that of many of his peers. “Imagine kids who come from a lot worse,” he notes. “Imagine what they are going through.”

In an interview with Steve Hartman for CBS Evening News, Estimon explained his motivation for the club.

“To me it’s like … if we don’t try and go make that change, who’s going to do it?” he said.

Allie Sealy, who also helped organize the club, got emotional while remembering what it was like to sit alone at lunch.

“Meeting someone who actually cares and listens to what you have to say really makes a difference,” she told Hartman. “And that could happen at lunch, that could happen at our club.”

Viewers who watched Hartman’s piece, which aired on CBS for his “On The Road” segment, praised the club m
embers for extending a helping hand.
High School Students Start Lunch Club So No One Eats Alone

High school students create club so no one eats alone at lunch time
The ‘We Dine Together’ lunch club aims to stop children feeling isolated

Denis Estimon, who started the club, told CBS News that when he first arrived at school in the first grade after leaving Haiti, he felt isolated, which was especially difficult during his lunch break.
Now a senior, Denis has made numerous friends throughout his school years, but he wanted to make sure other students do not experience the same isolation he did. 
“It’s not a good feeling, like you’re by yourself. And that’s something that I don’t want anybody to go through,” he said.
Teen’s Lunch Club Ensures No One Eats Alone at This Florida High School.
Most impressively, Denis realizes the need to recruit kids from schools who need We Dine Together the most. He tells Babble that the leadership summit will target schools with high suicide rates, for example. And it will build upon the founding concept of the club, says Denis — “from acceptance to breaking social barriers of isolation to building long lasting relationships over the table.”
Maybe with more students like Denis in schools across the country, kids really will believe that they matter, and that they too can be leaders and agents for change.
Teens start club to make sure no student feels alone at lunch
Their mission is to go into the courtyard at lunchtime to make sure no one is starving for company. For new kids especially, the club is a godsend.
Since it started last fall, hundreds of friendships have formed, some very unlikely.
Jean Max Meradieu actually quit the football team, gave up all perks that come with it, just so he could spend more time with this club.  “I don’t mind not getting a football scholarship. This is what I really want to do,” Jean said.
Just imagine how different your teenage years would have been if the coolest kids in school all of a sudden decided you mattered.
“We’ll get to know each other better,” Jean said to another student.
It obviously takes a lot of empathy to devote your lunch period to this. Either that, or firsthand experience.
“I went from a school where I always had friends -- to coming to where I had nobody,” said club member Allie Sealy.
Allie transferred to Boca High two years ago. She says with no one to sit next to, lunch can be the most excruciating part of the day.

The club has a Facebook page where members share daily updates about their meetings and explain how other students can get involved.
Most recently, the group shared a poem delivered by Nathaniel Hopwood, one of the club’s members.
“This is an insight to our weekly club meetings held at Boca Raton Community High School,” the page explained.

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