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Christmas
Old 12-05-2015, 12:34 PM
 
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You won't see a hint of anything Christmas related at my school because of this letter...

As we approach the break, it is common that schools and various CCS departments may engage in some manner of holiday social gatherings, events, school programs, etc. during the school or business day. Please be reminded that as a governmental agency, we must remain neutral with respect to religious activities commonly associated with the holiday. We have employees, students and families from numerous faith backgrounds. The law and our policy (3515) requires that we not engage in secular activities which would favor one religious faith over another. This may include sectarian prayers, songs, displays, etc. If there are questions about a specific activity, please feel free to give me a call to discuss.

Thanks.

Board Attorney


I see so many teachers in other counties and states posting their Christmas themed doors, having parties, assemblies, doing Christmas related writings and crafts. I remember my childhood fondly, when I participated in these activities.

Are any of you at a school that is so rigid like this?

Not looking to start a debate, as this is not the place for this. I'm just wondering in what other states/counties/districts is the policy as rigid as mine.



Last edited by DiamondGirl; 12-05-2015 at 01:08 PM..
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:54 PM
 
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Yes, we're serious about it--for the most part. I work at a public elementary school in Northern California. We received a similar memo. We call it Winter Break and some have small class "holiday" parties that honor many winter holidays. Our kids represent many cultures and we are very careful. No Christmas.

We are also in a politically correct area, so we are careful that way, too.

However, almost all the kids, even ones from non-Christmas cultures, do celebrate Christmas. And many teachers give office staff and each other Christmas gifts. Everyone calls out, "Merry Christmas!"

So, we're quite the hypocrites???
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holidays
Old 12-05-2015, 12:57 PM
 
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We received a reminder of our district's policies just the other day. We are allowed to do many of the things that your policy, apparently prohibits. They must be done in the context of culture, not teaching religion. Displays of Christmas trees, snowmen, reindeer. etc. are not considered religious.

As a personal note, when I was in the regular classroom, I would quietly do my own poll of the students. Just as part of conversation, ask them how they celebrate, etc. That would give me an idea of just how careful I had to be when it came to holidays. I had years when every child was expecting Santa Claus to visit, so I knew I was pretty safe in what I did.
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Christmas
Old 12-05-2015, 01:16 PM
 
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Our little rural district has little diversity. Our PTO insists on Christmas parties (that's what they're called). There may be one or two who celebrate "differently" mainly the Amish, an occasional JW and one Muslim family -who still participate in the festivities.

Our upcoming school holiday concert is filled with many religious and non religious songs.

Our decorations are mainly trees and stockings-no crosses or Nativity scenes that I know of.

I often wonder if our school will ever change...
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We have Christmas
Old 12-05-2015, 01:32 PM
 
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I work in a public primary school (K-6) in New South Wales, Australia. We have a diverse enrolment, including children from Muslim and Hindu families.

We do Christmas. I have a Christmas tree up in my room and we do Christmas crafts. Classes are having Christmas parties next week, and staff will have theirs on the weekend. It's not a religious festival at all (we are a secular nation, and most of our staff and children have no church connection), but it is definitely there.

We also celebrate Diwali and Eid.


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Old 12-05-2015, 02:09 PM
 
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The custodian at my school put up three huge Christmas trees on Friday, one in the center hall of each of our three floors. Our offices are all decked out with Christmas lights, garland, little trees, etc...We also recognize Hannukah and Kwanza with some decorations, however Christmas is definitely the most predominant. We have some students who are Jehovah's Witnesses and a few students who are Jewish.

We are allowed to do holiday parties on the last day before break. I would be sad if we couldn't celebrate, as I also fondly remember holiday activities at school when I was a kid.
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Cultural
Old 12-05-2015, 05:09 PM
 
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I do things from the cultural perspective. I do a unit on Christmas Around the World. I am Jewish, so I also do a big to do for Chanukah. I invite all students/parents to come and share about their culture. Rarely am I taken up on it. I had one student's mom come in, she, her daughter, and daughter's friend dressed up in traditional Indian attire. She talked about Diwali and did Henna for the kids. I had parents come in and talk about Lunar New Year (at that school, we also made a huge deal out of it, since our majority was Asian). This was the first year I have had students volunteer, I had a Muslim student talk about Ramadan (unfortunately, I was absent for the Jewish new year, but the kids said he did a good job) and one girl just talked about Christmas in the Philipinnes (not the best, but she got up and did it!).

Our school is having a staff Holiday party, but the PTA is having a Christmas Dinner. It took me awhile to RSVP for that as I was a bit offended.
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Our District Used to Be That Strict
Old 12-05-2015, 05:20 PM
 
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We can do something Christmas related as a lesson like read The Polar Express. But then we also need to read stories from other religious winter holidays as well.

We are not allowed to have a Christmas party for students.
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Our school is not at all diverse.
Old 12-05-2015, 05:31 PM
 
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We still put Christmas trees in our classrooms and have a Christmas sing along the last day before Christmas vacation. We also have a Christmas party on the last day. The kids all bring small gifts for everyone in the class. (Like erasers, pencils, wrapped candy, etc.) and pass them out to everyone. We don't do anything religious. It's all Christmas trees and gifts, but there are no mangers or angels. It's all very secular.
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Old 12-05-2015, 05:33 PM
 
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Our school isn't strict, although we focus more on learning about all holidays. Our December theme is The Gingerbread Man so most of our decorations revolve around that. But we do have some lights and tinsel up and a little Christmas tree, as well as a menorah. I'd be sad if we couldn't do anything, besides the fact that acknowledging religious holidays and celebrations is part of becoming culturally aware and tolerant.


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I teach Spanish
Old 12-05-2015, 07:10 PM
 
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My second grade students will be learning about Las Posadas. My third and fourth grade students will learn about Christmas in Spain. This is done in the context of culture. Our first grade teaches about celebrations worldwide in one of their PYP units.

We are a small rural district with little diversity. There have not been any official notices about what may or may not be celebrated.
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Old 12-05-2015, 09:56 PM
 
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Our school is being more strict this year and we were told no holiday parties so as to be inclusive and respectful. I however have a party for my students at the end of every themed unit (kindergarten) and we did one for our insect unit, and our first thanksgiving/ American natives unit so i figured I could slip by with a winter weather party. However my P told me after I had my volunteer sign up sheet approved and posted outside my door that he didn't realize it was the day before break so I need to change it after break so that no one would think I was having a Christmas party. I had to send an email cancelling it and I said we would have it on an undetermined day following the break.

I have gotten some whiny and down right rude emails from parents practically demanding that we have a party before break since they don't want there child deprived of the experience of a class Christmas party. To be honest I was bummed when I cancelled the party but after how demanding and entitled the emails I got have been I have no desire to have anymore parties with this years class at all.
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At our elementary schools
Old 12-06-2015, 01:13 PM
 
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The holidays are just as festive as ever. We just exchanged the word Christmas of either winter or holiday (depending on the context). For example parties the last day before break is a big deal, but we are not aloud to call them "Christmas parties" instead they are "winter parties." When we have our ornament decorating contest it wasn't called "Christmas ornament," but "winter ornament" instead. At one of our schools they are having a tree decorating contest which they are calling "holiday tree" and at our middle school they decorated doors, which was called "holiday door contest." And as all of the decorating is to be student driven, Christmas decorations are ok as long as they are not called that.

The holiday is just as fun and creative as ever, just as long as we don't use the word "Christmas."
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:34 PM
 
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Our public city school has students from different cultural and religious traditions, but the vast majority celebrate Christmas. I have always taught winter holidays in lower elementary, including Diwali (kick off the unit with this in Oct/Nov), Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve/Day, Kwanzaa, Christmas Around the World (Las Posadas in Mexico/shoes outside door in Holland/etc), Eid (not always at this time but I teach it as part of this unit), and Chinese New Year (in February). I want my students to be exposed to a range of cultural and religious traditions so that if they make friends with a person from that tradition, they don't automatically think it's weird because they know nothing about it. I check out books from the public library, show them video clips from Youtube, and we write/draw/craft about and play games from different traditions. No administrator or parent has ever protested this approach, and I've contacted parents who I thought might be squeamish about it to explain that my approach is purely from a Social Studies angle.

I would never want a kid to feel singled out as 'that one kid that stopped us from having Christmas because they don't celebrate it,' so I teach it all. The kids LOVE the unit and they talk about it all year! I vaguely remember my public school as a kid making reindeer ornaments or painted tile trivets, but my students seem to get so much more out of the activities I listed above and we decorate the room with those things so that it's truly learning while having fun! Our last-day-before-break craft is always something generically winter (snowman, snowflake, gingerbread, etc.) so that kids can choose to make it Christmassy or not.
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yes, me
Old 12-06-2015, 04:48 PM
 
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We are not allowed to have holiday related items either unless it's snowflakes or something like that. We have students of many religions. We have many jewish students, indian, etc.. Then we'd have to also have chanukka menorah, kwanzaa menorah, celebrate diwali,, etc
So yes we have almost the same letter emailed to us too
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Old 12-07-2015, 05:43 AM
 
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I think way too much emphasis is on the holiday at school. I have, in the past, done big units on culture around the world with the holidays, and kids learned a lot. However, now I do next to nothing. I have a scavenger hunt on holiday traditions around the world part of the last week (my muslum student moved). I put making a holiday card in one of my rotations. And our winter celebration we are going to do a STEM activity basically building a tree out of gumdrops.

I think that is actually plenty. There are so many things to teach that taking the focus to something else isn't helpful to me. They get plenty of holiday at home.

The staff does a 12 days of Christmas where we all bring treats to share, and have a gift exchange and secret santa, but it is only for people who want to participate.
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