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National civil rights group recognizes Marion C. Cook School for its efforts in teaching tolerance

    LAGRANGE — The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program has named the Marion C. Cook School in LaGrange as a Mix It Up Model School for its exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among students and throughout campus during the 2012-13 school year. The Marion C. Cook School is one of 63 schools from across the country receiving the honor.

    “We are delighted to recognize each of these schools,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “Mix It Up Model Schools have found innovative ways to create a school environment where respect and inclusiveness are core values. They serve as examples for other schools hoping to instill these values in their students, faculty and staff.”
    The 2013 National Mix It Up at Lunch Day will be held on Oct. 29. A list of the model schools can be found at
    For more than a decade, Mix It Up Day has provided students across the country with an opportunity to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications as studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions. Last year more than 3,000 schools took part in the event.
    The Mix It Up Model Schools met five criteria: They each hosted a Mix it Up at Lunch Day in 2012 or 2013; they included different members of the school’s community — cafeteria staff, aides, administrators, teachers or students — in organizing the event; they followed up with at least two additional Mix It Up-related programs or events on campus; they publicized Mix It Up at Lunch Day or celebrated inclusiveness with posters, announcements and other media; and their event was seen by students and school officials as a success.
    The Marion C. Cook schools event is lead and organized by their Civil Rights Team made up of fourth- and fifth-grade students.
    The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy. For more information, see

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