Is school the wrong place for Halloween?
In Newington, Connecticut, television station WTNH’s Bob Wilson reports that two elementary schools have told students to leave their Halloween costumes at home. Principals sent letters to parents saying that since everyone does not participate in Halloween, it should not be celebrated at school.
Parent Lori Montano thinks this is a case of taking political correctness just a little too far. She adds that if some people do not want to celebrate, then they do not have to participate, but the fun should not be taken from the kids who do.
Another report states that all four elementary schools in Newington will not be celebrating Halloween at school. At Ruth Caffee Elementary School and Anna Reynolds Elementary school, annual Halloween parades have always been held for kindergarten children and students in first grade. Many parents were angered, says Mike Krafcik of WTIC-TV. The other two elementary schools did not have costume parades or parties planned, and have not for several years. School officials were interested in having all four schools operating under the same policies. Instead of parades, both schools that have formerly had parades will instead sponsor a “Fall Festival” at which children will be allowed to dress up as their favorite literary characters.
One parent with a fourth grader at Anna Reynolds Elementary Schools explained why she was against the decision to eliminate school Halloween celebrations, says Doug Greene reporting for NBC Connecticut.
“To these kids,” said Kami Astorino, “it has nothing to do with religion, it has nothing to do with exclusion, and it has nothing to do with evilness. They come to school, they wear their costumes, they celebrate, and that’s how they ring in the fall.”
Astorino says that she respects everyone’s religious beliefs and does not want anyone to feel excluded, but thinks that Newington is trying to cancel Halloween.
There is a debate over the same issue in New Jersey. Parents of students at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood were sent a letter from Principal Mark Quiles which stated that the annual Halloween celebration at school was being cancelled, according to Jeessica Mazzola writing for Advance Media for NJ. Quiles said that every year there are students who opt out of the celebration and he felt that the numbers had become large enough to signal the festivities should be discontinued. But, in a surprising turn-around, Acting Superintendent James Memoli reversed the cancellation, saying that whether or not Halloween celebrations should continue is a question that needed to be decided by all school districts.
“Given how close we are to Halloween, we do not have time to engage in this District-wide discussion without disrupting plans that are already in place in other school[s].”
Memoli also told parents that for students whose families chose to have their children opt out of the Halloween events, there would be “alternative activities.”
“The list of holidays approved by the State Board of Education is a list of religious holidays that local school officials must honor if they receive requests for excused absences for individual students,” said David Saenz, Jr., DOE spokesman. “Local officials have the option of not approving a request for a religious holiday not on the list.”
Halloween does not appear on the list.
Ray Rossi of New Jersey 101.5 asks:
“…why take it away from the majority that looks forward to it every year?”
For many years, the Christian evangelical community has objected to the holiday on the grounds that it is pagan. Jessica Mazzola, in an article written for The Huffington Post, says that some churches, seeking a Christian-themed fall event, have begun harvest celebrations for young people.