PCHS named ‘Mix It Up Model School’

Published 4:00 am Friday, April 24, 2015

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program has named Pike County High School as a Mix It Up Model School for its exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding among its students and throughout its campus during the 2014-2015 school year.

Pike County High School is one of 104 schools nationwide to receive this honor.

Willie Wright, principal, said being name a Mix It Up Model School is a great honor and distinction for the students, faculty and staff of PCHS.

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“Our school counselor, Sharon Sullivan, is very creative and continues to come up with ways to encourage our students to be accepting of others and appreciative of the differences in people,” Wright said. “As a Mix It Up Model School, Pike County High School is recognized as a school whose students are caring and accepting of others in today’s society.”

Sullivan said the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program award recognized PCHS for having found innovative ways to create school environments where respect and inclusiveness are core values.

“PCHS was also recognized for serving as an example of how any school can cultivate those values among their students, faculty and staff,” Sullivan said.

“To qualify for this recognition, schools had to meet several criteria. Each school was required to host a Mix It Up Lunch Day, have at least two additional Mix It Up-related programs or events, publicize their events and verify that the Mix-It Up events were viewed as successful by the students and school officials.”

The Mix It Up Lunch Day at Pike County High School was held in October 2014 and was simply a call to action, Sullivan said.

“The idea of the lunch day is to ask the students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch,” Sullivan said. “Students are encouraged to identify, question and cross social boundaries.”

PCHS’ 2014-2015 Mix It Up Lunch had an international flavor.

“This year, we invited international students at Troy University to have lunch with our students,” Sullivan said. “Many of our students had never had an opportunity to visit with a student from another country so it was a very exciting and learning experience for them, for all our students.”

Sullivan said the PCHS students had opportunities over lunch to question the international students about the schools in their countries, about customs, family life and what it’s like for them to be in America.

Sullivan said some of the international students came in their traditional clothing; others brought items of interest from their countries; and others gave slide show presentations.

In addition to learning about the foreign countries, students learned to speak several words in Nigerian, Chinese and in different Indonesian dialects.

“Having Troy University international students participate in Mix It Up Lunch Day gave our students an opportunity to, not only mix it up their classmates, but to mix it up with students whose cultures are different from ours,” Sullivan said. “It was a unique opportunity for our students and an excellent learning experience.

“Being a Mix It Up Model School is a great honor. It says a lot about Pike County High School and our students. I don’t know how we’ll be able to top this year’s Mix It Up Lunch next year. But it will be fun to try.”

Sullivan expressed appreciation to the Southern Poverty Law Center for the recognition and to all of those who mixed it up so successfully.