Wilson Middle School students on Tuesday broke rank with their traditional social circles, mingling with a diverse range of schoolmates as part of the national anti-bullying event Mix It Up Day.
Launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center and spearheaded at Wilson by English teacher Jolie Augustine, Mix It Up Day is designed to build tolerance on school campuses by facilitating interactions between students who typically wouldn't interact.
"We need to start with the kids," Augustine said. "Teachers and administrators can be there to talk to, but ultimately what I am trying to do is empower the kids."
Bullying, propelled by several serious incidents, is a hot topic nationally. In January, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself after allegedly being bullied at her South Hadley, Mass., high school. And in September, 18-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge, allegedly because his roommate streamed a romantic encounter with a male friend live on the Internet.