Martin Center mixes it up

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Today, Martin Center students had to leave their comfort zone.

"They're going to sit with people they usually don't sit with normally," teacher Monica Starovic said.

The activity is part of "Mix It Up Day," a nationwide event designed to break down stereotypes and prejudices.

Meeting someone new isn't always easy, but once the ice is broken, students learn their peers may actually have something nice to say.

A compliment like that goes a long way with kids facing barriers over race, income, their looks and how they act. Students wrote down their personal experience and taped it to the wall. One student wrote about being bullied by a local gang.

One girl recalls a hurtful comment made by an adult years ago.

"The coach told me I was too big to be on the volleyball team," she said. "I probably would never make it to the ball."

Words can have a lasting effects.

"I never tried out for sports again," she said.

"It's so important that we all be careful what we say and how we say it," Starovic said.

There are assumptions about the students. There are also preconceived notions about the Martin Center.

"A lot of people when I tell them I work at the Martin Center think it's for just bad kids," Starovic said.

A few may have troubled pasts, but the students' common bond is learning together how to avoid distractions caused by the barrier of intolerance.

"If you know you're a good person then you know you're a good person and that's all that matters," student Kelsey Triana said.

"Everybody is different," DeAndre Wade said. "Everybody got a different brain. Everybody live differently."

And by "mixing it up," students can learn from those differences.

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