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article imageSchools take traditional Halloween customs out of the classroom Special

By Leigh Goessl     Oct 28, 2011 in World
The aura of Halloween is in the air. Every October many people decorate, choose costumes, and plan their festivities and parties. Overall, for these individuals, it is a day often linked to having fun.
In the past, many schools allowed the tradition of Halloween into the classroom with Halloween parties, chock full of costumes and goodies. However, in the new Millennium this tradition is steadily changing or being eliminated completely in Canadian and U.S. schools.
Reasons for taking Halloween out of the classroom tend to vary from school to school. Often the reason given is that the holiday is a "social" rather than an educational one, it disrupts the school day, or that celebrations might be offensive to some students.
Decisions made by schools range from cutting the day out of the curriculum completely or scheduling a teacher work day with no school for students. Other schools still allow a celebration in the classroom but call it a "fall party" or a "pretending party" with no scary costumes or mention of the word "Halloween" allowed.
Kathleen Flanagan, a mom of three who has lived in many areas of the U.S., has seen all sorts of different school policies relating to Halloween.
"I've lived in six states and each one has treated Halloween in a different way. I've seen it ignored and embraced," Adding, "While I can see not having kids come to school in costume, as it can be distracting, but to pretend Halloween doesn't exist is nonsense."
In Northern New Jersey one school district banned Halloween costumes altogether. The Associated Press reported Springfield Superintendent Michael Davino "barred" children from wearing costumes to either of the district's two elementary schools on Oct. 31. Some parents were upset and voiced their thoughts on the matter, but the school board declined to reverse the decision. Others supported the motion.
"It detracts from the educational day," Board President Pat Venezia said in the AP report. "I can attest to it. I was once a PTA mom who helped put on those (Halloween) parties. You lose a whole afternoon of instruction and, because kids are anticipating it, you lose part of the morning as well. That's just how kids are."
Davino has since reversed his decision based on the fact parties were already planned in the classrooms, meaning learning will be interrupted anyway, in addition to the feedback from parents opposing this move.
In Calgary, located in Alberta, Canada, a new approach is being taken this year. According to the Edmonton Journal, "caring" is being substituted for "scary" on Halloween. Students are asked to wear "caring and community friendly outfits" at two Calgary elementary schools.
Instead of parties, students will be attending a caring-themed assembly in the morning and can wear their costume all day. Principal Michelle Speight said the policy is designed to "accommodate all children, including those with cultural backgrounds that don't celebrate Halloween."
Edmonton Journal said parents were questioning if this is political correctness gone too far.
"I don't want to bash the school, but I do think it's a little bit silly," said Julie Van Rosendaal, whose six-year-old son attends one of the elementary schools.
Should Halloween be banned, embraced, ignored or modified?
Perhaps avoided altogether through school designated "teacher work days"?
If a Connecticut lawmaker has his way, Halloween, at least in the U.S., would be moved to Saturdays as recently reported by Digital Journal. In this event, schools would avoid the entire Halloween controversy altogether.
Some might question if Halloween should even be a controversy to begin with.
Flanagan said, "It's a fun day for kids. Would anyone want to take St. Valentine's Day away? St. Patrick's Day? These are fun "holidays" for kids and why would you not want kids to experience fun? I am not in favor of taking Halloween themes out of schools."
More about Canada, US, Halloween, Classroom, Education
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