It used to be an annual tradition: the elementary school Halloween parade and party, but Mitchell Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts has now canceled the festivities.
The reason behind the ban, the school notes, is that some families keep their children home on October 31 because they don’t celebrate the Halloween holiday that day. Given that, teachers and administrators looked for a solution so that no child would be excluded.
Principal Gregory Bayse explained in a letter to parents that one teacher noted the “awkwardness planning a class celebration knowing that not all of her students would be able to participate,” as the reason for ending the Halloween tradition, according to a report from WCVB-TV.
Bayse further noted that the faculty was “near-unanimous in believing” the celebrations should end. The letter explained: “For many years Mitchell has celebrated Halloween with class parties and a parade of students in costume. However, Halloween is a holiday that not all families celebrate and — for a variety of reasons — some Mitchell families keep their children home from school on that day.”
He further wrote: “I recognize that this decision will be disappointing to some who may feel like Mitchell is changing. I would agree that this represents a change, but I believe that in the long-term any change towards including all children is a positive change that will benefit our students and our community.”
Not all parents, however, were on board with the decision, with one saying, “It’s fun! I can’t see why people want to preclude kids from having fun, and enjoy something that’s more cultural.” He added, “There’s no real religious significance to anything about Halloween. It’s just a thing where kids get candy.”
Another parent, however, explained, “I don’t feel [parades and parties are] really related to overall learning. It’s important for kids to have fun, but it is a choice, per family. We definitely like to celebrate with our kids.”
One grandmother noted, “I love Halloween, and I always loved it as a kid in school. So it makes me a little bit sad.” Another grandmother said that children who don’t participate in Halloween “don’t have to be with the kids who are celebrating.”
In order to still have some festivities of the season, the school is celebrating the school’s namesake, William Mitchell Day on November 9, where it will be a fall celebration, rather than a Halloween holiday party.
Other schools in the recent past have continued with Halloween parades and parties, but many have firm rules about costumes (nothing violent, scary, no masks or weapons) and others opt for healthy celebrations, without the traditional sweets.
One person weighing in in the comments section of the Needham Times Facebook coverage of the story questioned: “That is bullsh*t. Should the world cancel Christmas or Chanukah because some people don’t celebrate those holidays? There have always been Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t celebrate birthdays but other kids always brought in treats. The kids that don’t celebrate their birthdays can still say happy birthday and eat a cupcake though they don’t do it for their birthdays. Jews can say merry Christmas to gentile friends and give or receive a gift without ‘celebrating’ christmas. What are we going to do take away all holidays?”