At least four students from a suburban St. Louis middle school face punishment for allegedly hitting Jewish classmates during what they called Hit a Jew Day.

The incident happened last week at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield.

District spokesman Paul Tandy says some of the school's approximately three dozen Jewish students were hit on the shoulders or backs. But in one case, a student allegedly was slapped in the face.

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.

District officials believe a handful of children were directly involved. Those who actually struck classmates could face suspension and required counseling, Tandy said. Others who weren't directly involved but taunted Jewish students or egged on classmates could face lesser penalties.

There is a mix of sadness and outrage, Tandy said. The concern is a lot of kids knew about it and they didn't take action or say anything.

Karen Aroesty, St. Louis regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said this was more than a case of bullying. Officials from the group plan to discuss the matter with school leaders.