Middle school students enjoy ‘mixing it up’

Oakville Middle School Principal Mike Salsman, left, talks to OMS students during the schools Peace, Love and Pizza-themed Mix It Up Day.

Oakville Middle School Principal Mike Salsman, left, talks to OMS students during the school’s Peace, Love and Pizza-themed Mix It Up Day.

For the past several years, middle school students across the Mehlville School District have been “mixing it up” during their lunch periods to get to know their classmates.

During each Mix It Up Day, students sit with different classmates during lunch than their normal lunchtime group.

They are encouraged to start new conversations and find common interests with their peers.

“We try to emphasize tolerance, diversity and acceptance,” Margaret Buerkle Middle School Counselor Karen Williams stated in a district news release. “We talk to the students about getting to know all of their classmates and supporting them.”

The Mix It Up Days, which serve as character education opportunities for the students, vary between each school. Students take part in games, conversation starters and even a surprise flash dance.

“The students are thrown initially by the change of routine. It takes them out of their comfort zone,” MBMS Counselor Kelli Merritt stated. “But overall, the students do a good job of participating and talking to classmates they have not had an opportunity to know very well.”

The Mix It Up Program was founded by Teaching Tolerance, an entity created by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Each year, Teaching Tolerance hosts a National Mix It Up Day to help schools across the country break down the barriers between students and improve intergroup relations.

The program works to reduce misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment, the release stated.

Each Mehlville School District middle school regularly hosts one Mix It Up Day each year. To coincide with its Step Into My Shoes, or SIMS, program established this fall, MBMS has scheduled five Mix It Up Days this semester. Each day follows one of the five themes designated by the SIMS program: value, kindness, respect, responsibility and service.

Middle school staff members also participate in the Mix It Up Days. Not only do students share a lunch table with their teachers, but both staff and students have the opportunity to learn more about each other and discover the interests they share, according to the release.

For more information about Teaching Tolerance and the Mix It Up Program, visit