Published On: Tue, Mar 28th, 2017

Boca High Students Make Sure No One Has to Eat Lunch Alone

By: Michael Demyan and Nikki Colonna

we-dine-together-2

Photo Courtesy We Dine Together Facebook

A Boca Raton Community High School senior has decided to make it his mission to make sure no student eats lunch alone.

The school has a population of over 3,000 students, which can make it intimidating for some to make friends and have a place to sit, especially if they are new or have a language barrier.

Denis Estimon immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti when he was in the first grade and had the same feelings many students face today during their lunch hour. He started to notice how everyone was broken up into separate groups and talked about it with his mentor, Gregg Francis, who challenged him to make a positive change.

Last summer, Estimon, along with fellow students Allie Sealy, Jean Max Meradieu and Kinsley Florestal, came up with the idea of We Dine Together. Finding excluded kids was actually not the original purpose of the group, however.

“When we originally started the club it was basically just a club where we bring together a whole bunch of different groups to eat together,” Estimon said.

Then at a meeting, they were examining the groups and thought about all of the kids who did not belong to one. There were many kids who would spend lunch sitting by themselves without friends to talk to.

“That’s when the whole mission changed to reach the unreached,” he said.

Now with the help of their teacher, Jordan Hernandez, Estimon and the rest of We Dine Together hold meetings once a week during lunch where they share a meal. Before they eat though, they always have some activities and games to help everyone interact with each other. It can help break the kids out of their comfort zone and create new friendships.

“Sooner or later, people are going to realize that they have things in common and realize no matter what their skin color is, we’re really not all that different,” Estimon said.

we-dine-together

Photo Courtesy We Dine Together Facebook

On days they do not meet, the group of kids make their way to the lunch area and courtyard to make sure that no one is alone and searching for someone to sit with.

Former student class president and Leadership member Haley Little is happy to hear about this new club and what it will bring to the school’s environment.

“We Dine Together makes Boca Raton High School more of a family,” Little said. “You have the chance to connect with students you wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise. I wish I could have been a part of this.”

Little came from a small private middle school, so her transition to Boca High was not easy for her as well. She thinks this new group adds a positive vibe to the school and expects it will continue to inspire others and build new unexpected relationships.

Throughout the school year, the club has created many new friendships and introduced new bonds to people who otherwise may have never met. This has influenced more and more people to not only join the club, but also helped students be more open-minded to making new friends and accepting others at their lunch tables.

“It feels amazing,” Estimon said. “When we first started out, it wasn’t about publicity or anything like that. Basically we were trying to help people. This is something that every school in this country – in the world needs.”

Estimon hopes that the We Dine Together program can expand to more schools around the country to continue the effort to make sure no one is left alone.

“The biggest thing is now people are trying to do the same thing that we’re doing,” he said. “People want to replicate it in their schools and it just goes to show how one idea can make a difference.”

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