No one eats alone at AIS

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Michael Sauner, principal of Austintown Intermediate School, believes in the No One Eats Alone Day program. He said the program extends students' range of support. Pictured, fifth-grade intervention teacher Jessie Geiser ate with a group of students.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The PTA of Austintown Intermediate School invited the community members into the school. The program was a joint effort between the school and PTA. Pictured, fifth-grade teacher Scott Doan sat with some students during lunch.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.No One Eats Alone Day aims to fight social isolation. Austintown Intermediate brought in members of the community and teachers to sit and talk with the students during their lunches. Pictured, Detective Sergeant Shawn Hevener joked with a group of students.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown Intermediate School observed No One Eats Alone Day a national program created by Beyond Differences, on Feb. 9. Pictured, Dean of Students Mick Naples sat with fifth-grade students during the event.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The Austintown Intermediate PTA members invited six police officers to speak with the students during the No One Eats Alone Day. Pictured, Allen Phillips, a patrolman with Austintown Police Department, talked to four fifth-grade boys.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

Austintown Intermediate School participated in the national No One Eats Alone Day during lunch on Feb. 9.

The PTA organized the event with the school and reached out to the community to bring in some respected figures to have lunch with them. The event focused on helping struggling and isolated students.

“It’s a powerful program meant to fight pressures that society puts on them,“ said principal Michael Sauner. He said the program expanded the students’ network of support and reinforced the support from within the school. “It lets the kids know they matter.“

Beyond Differences, a non-profit with the purpose of ending social isolation, created No One Eats Alone Day to raise awareness to the students eating alone and engage in making the school and community inclusive.

According to their website, the parents of a child named Lilli Smith began Beyond Differences. Smith had cranial facial syndrome and became socially isolated during her middle school years. She died of medical complications and a few local teens began speaking about social isolation, leading to the first small group of Beyond Differences.

The No One Eats Alone Day is the nonprofit’s most popular national program, and they state on their website that it will be celebrated in more than 2,000 schools this year.

Patty Herman, president of the Austintown Intermediate School’s PTA, invited six police officers to the school to talk with the children during their lunch. Along with the police officers, the teachers ate lunch with students throughout the grade level they teach. They sat with a group for several minutes before moving to another group of students.

Sauner said that he can relate to the program because he was shy at their age. He said he had a group of friends growing up but did not become a more social person until he reached college.

The program aims to instill social isolation prevention techniques in the students and carry forward the inclusive practices in future lunches and recesses.

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