A move to a new school or just being the shy kid can be especially tough during lunch time. Often times kids end up sitting by themselves, afraid or intimidated by the already formed cliques and groups of peers in the lunchroom. A high school senior that knows what it’s like to feel like the odd man out decided to do something for kids who eat alone and created a program in his school called “We Dine Together.”
ABC News reports about Boca Raton Community High School’s Denis Estimon who came up with an idea that would end the embarrassment and loneliness many kids feel during lunch time.
Estimon moved to the U.S. from Haiti when he was in the first grade. Though he is now a high school senior, he still remembers how difficult it was for him to make friends in a new school. Estimon explains, “There was a language barrier ... and my mom was always working and my father was still in Haiti at the time so I wasn't able to talk to anybody. I felt isolated. I felt lonely. And so I still remember how I felt not being able to speak to fellow students.”
Drawing from his own experience of being the new kid, Estimon had a deeper understanding of how kids in his high school lunchroom were probably feeling. He explains, “At Boca High, if you look at the cafeteria from a bird's eye view, on one side you’ll see more isolated kids, and on the other side you’ll see the football players.” After sharing this observation with a mentor from an afterschool program, he was then challenged to make a difference. Estimon says, “I told him it shouldn’t be this way. He challenged me to do something about it and that’s basically what I did.”
Estimon created a lunch club called “We Dine Together” where kids throughout the school are invited to join in a friendly atmosphere and be more social with fellow students. Some members of the club are assigned to be recruiters who invite other students to the club who look like they’re in need of some company. Everyone meets in Estimon’s English teacher’s classroom where they talk and get to know each other. English teacher Jose Hernandez is happy to host the lunch club and explains, “Our mission is to build relationships over the table. We try to go out and find those who are ostracized or isolated and bring them into the club.”
What do you think of the “We Dine Together” lunch club formed by this high school student?
Do you think more schools should offer a program for new and shy students to be social?