Halloween Parties vs. Student Learning: What Do You Think, Rochester?
Read how one Rochester school has restructured the way it celebrates Halloween.
Where should schools draw the line between work and play? Between classrooms and costumes?
It's a question at least one Rochester school community is facing this Halloween: students at Meadow Brook Elementary School in Rochester Hills will not be parading through their school in costume Wednesday as in years' past. Instead of the annual daytime Halloween parade and party, students were invited to dress in costume for the school's fall social on Friday night.
Meadow Brook Principal Maria Etienne explained the change in a recent letter to parents that was shared with Rochester Patch.
"This celebration takes away a good portion of the day’s instruction, minutes and hours that are precious to our students," Etienne stated. "We at Meadow Brook are advocates for student learning and quality teaching in a safe and caring environment.
"A student is the most important person in my school. ... As a result the focus of our school is on service and excellence, emphasizing the importance of teaching and learning."
Meadow Brook students were invited to dress in their Halloween costumes for a fall social last Friday night. The event included a parade and music.
But some parents were upset about the change to the long-standing tradition.
"Meadow Brook Elementary will be the only school in the district that will be doing absolutely nothing on Halloween during the school day," said parent Amy Wendt.
Wendt said more than 90 parents signed a petition asking for a compromise: they acknowledged that giving up two hours of classroom time for a parade and party was too much and asked for a costume parade only.
"Having the Halloween parade during the school day gives the kids something to look forward to, creating a positive environment for learning," parents wrote in a letter to Etienne. "Having the Halloween parade keeps a long standing tradition at Meadow Brook Elementary. Traditions are very important as they give the school an identity."
The Rochester school is not alone in the cancellation of daytime Halloween festivities. A school district in suburban Chicago made headlines this month when its school board backed the superintendent's decision to ban Halloween parties at some schools. Three Skokie-Morton Grove District 69 schools will not have Halloween parties this year; the superintendent cited concerns the district has not made progress in certain testing areas and wanted learning to be the focus. Almost 500 parents signed a petition to keep the parties.
Last year, several Muskegon-area schools replaced Halloween celebrations with shorter fall festivals; one school even made health and fitness - rather than candy - the focus of the event.
And a decision to ban Halloween costumes at an Oregon school led Fox News to headine a report: "Schools Declare War on Halloween."
Etienne stated that she plans to send a survey to all families who attended the fall social to get parent feedback for future celebrations. "I promise you that parents' voices will be heard upon the return of the survey," she stated in her letter to parents.
What do you think? Should schools explore other ways to celebrate occasions like Halloween?
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