"HIT A JEW DAY"
Several sixth-graders from suburban St. Louis are being disciplined for creating"Hit a Jew Day" and then hitting Jewish classmates.
Four or five students at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield could be suspended and undergo counseling for last week's incident, school officials told the Associated Press. Others who taunted Jewish students or encouraged others to participate face lesser punishment.
Officials said fewer than 10 of the school's 35 Jewish students were hit. One was slapped in the face and the others were hit mostly on the back of their shoulders.
"There is a mix of sadness and outrage," said district spokesman Paul Tandy."The concern is a lot of kids knew about it and they didn't take action or say anything."
AP explains:It began with an unofficial"Spirit Week" among sixth-graders that started harmlessly enough with a"Hug a Friend Day." Then there was"High Five Day."
Soon, though, the days moved from friendly to silly. Next there was"Hit a Tall Person Day" and, finally,"Hit a Jew Day."
Principal Linda Lelonek told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she learned about the incidents Monday and called an assembly Tuesday morning.
"What's tomorrow going to be? 'Hit A Principal Day?'" she asked.
Karen Aroesty, St. Louis regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said this was more than a case of bullying. Her group is meeting tomorrow with district leaders.
"It is shocking and distressing to see anti-Semitism acted out by middle school students," Aroesty said a statement."Our schools and schoolyards are places where respect and understanding should be the norm. We appreciate that administrators are responding swiftly and look forward to working with Parkway West Middle School to turn these incidents into teachable moments that will resonate both in the classroom and at home."
Later in the school year the the sixth-graders will be studying the Holocaust.
"It's going to be a little more meaningful this year than it's ever been before," Lelonek said.
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