MARENGO, Iowa (KWWL) — Put down your cell phone and have a conversation, that’s the idea behind Iowa Valley Jr. and Sr. High School’s No Phones, New Friends Friday program.
Both middle and high school students are trading in their electronic devices for conversation starters and randomly assigned seats during lunch.
This is the first year the school is giving the idea a try, even the teachers are joining in to get to know their students better outside of the classroom.
As students shuffle in they’re given a color-coded card, which lets them know what table to join and who they’ll be getting to know that Friday.
Iowa Valley Junior & Senior High School has a new program it’s trying this year. It’s called No Phones, New Friends Friday. Students are trading in their electronics for conversation starter prompts. It’s helping them get to know each other with the distraction of social media. pic.twitter.com/2en1JMCY3l
— KWWL (@KWWL) October 11, 2019
Principal, Janet Behrens said it’s not just a good way to break the ice but to also get student feedback. Today’s card was centered around homecoming and suggestions for next year.
“Somebody take charge and write that stuff down,” said Behrens is the start of one of the high school lunches.
She doesn’t really just want their feedback, what she wants, even more, is for students to get to know someone new.
“She usually sits with her grade,” said Senior, Hannah Shad, “But I’d sit by you if you sat by me during lunch.”
“It’s kind of a lost art,” said Behrens, “You know, we do everything so much based on technology that sometimes we struggle to just sit and have a conversation.”
At the start of the year, Behrens said students were a bit apprehensive. “There was a little bit of ‘uh, this is going to be terrible, we don’t want to do that’.”
However, a couple of weeks in now and students are realizing it’s not so bad getting pushed outside their comfort zone.
“It’s been interesting I mean I like the idea,” said Shad, “I think it’s a good idea because we’re usually very attached to our phones.”
Another high school student, Eli Slaymaker agreed, “It’s fun, meeting new people and learning about them.”
Each week different conversation starters help break the ice and that’s been helpful to get things started said, Junior, Melina Stubblefieob, “We always go off from them but it definitely starts to help bring a conversation in.”
“I feel like by the time we get to the end of the school year we’ll be used to it and it’ll be pretty easy,” said Shad.
Now, Friday’s lunches include a serving of good conversation.
“I just feel like I know more people in school and I have more friends that way, ya know,” said Slaymaker.
“It’s an art. They’re going to go out to the real world and they’re going to start that first job and you’re not going to know everybody. You can’t just communicate through your phone,” said Behrens.
In a time where bullying and teasing are a concern in schools. Behrens also hopes this is an opportunity for students to get to know someone before passing judgment.
Coming up @ 6 — Hear from the principal & students of Iowa Valley who are trying something new on Friday’s. They’re putting down their phones to strike up conversations w/ random classmates. The principal says she hopes this helps them before heading into the real world. pic.twitter.com/SuHF0NcpTj
— KWWL (@KWWL) October 11, 2019