The We Dine Together club at Boca Raton High School in Florida is swiftly gaining national attention.
As anyone who has been through it can attest to, high school can be a daunting experience. What’s more, new students often have a particularly rough go of it, trying to fit in, trying to find like-minded students, trying to avoid the automatic ostracization of being the new kid. It is these very things that a student named Dennis Estimon was thinking of when he started the We Dine Together club.
The founder of the We Dine Together club was once a new kid himself. Dennis moved to Florida from Haiti in the first grade and knows firsthand what kind of an impact the We Dine Together club can have. Estimon is now a senior and by all accounts a popular guy. He has friends, he has people to eat lunch with, but he remembers what it was like to be the new kid, to be the outsider, and through the We Dine Together club, Dennis makes sure that everyone at Boca Raton High School feels like they have a place.
Each day during lunch, Dennis and the other members of the We Dine Together club make the rounds, looking for new kids, looking for kids that are sitting by themselves. They introduce themselves, engage in conversation, and make sure that if those kids are looking for friends, if they are looking for inclusion, then they can find it. The We Dine Together club members invite these new kids to come eat lunch with them in a nearby classroom. When they are there, all the members talk about themselves, where they are from, what their interests are, and then the We Dine Together members attempt to get the new kids to open up about themselves.
The We Dine Together club founder, Dennis Estimon, spoke about why he started the club on CBS Sunday Morning.
“It’s not a good feeling. Like you’re by yourself, and that’s not something that I want anyone to go through… To me, it’s like if we don’t try to go and make that change, then who is going to do it?”
Including other kids in what is basically a lunch club might seem like a small thing. In fact, to some it might seem trivial. But to the members of the We Dine Together club, it is an incredibly important program. Many of us, especially those of us that have a few decades or more in the rear view mirror between the present and our high school years, can find it easy to forget just how rough those teen years can be. And let’s face it, even if we didn’t have that rough of a time in high school, all of us at least knew of some kids that did — kids that could have benefited greatly from something like the We Dine Together club.
Ostracization comes in all shapes and sizes, especially in the teen years. During those years, we’re all still trying to figure out who we are and who we want to be. Students today are more hard-pressed than ever to decide what they’re going to do post high school earlier than ever. In some schools, kids are expected to start their career track education decisions before they start their freshman year regarding choosing their classes. We are asking kids that are 13 and 14 years old what they plan on doing for the rest of their lives, and that alone can be more than a little overwhelming.
When you add to all of that any and all problems at home, financial disparities, puberty — all of it can add up to a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, the teens at Boca Raton High School are taking the bull by the horns on their own, and the We Dine Together club, which they are now attempting to make a national program, is certain to quell a lot of loneliness.
[Featured Image by Antonio Diaz/Shutterstock]