Parents voice concerns over holiday celebrations to Bethel School District

Parents, students, and teachers filled an auditorium at Shasta Middle School Thursday night to face the Bethel School Board.

Posted: Feb. 15, 2018 11:10 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- Parents, students, and teachers filled an auditorium at Shasta Middle School Thursday night to face the Bethel School Board. It came after parents were outraged upon hearing that Valentines Day would be replaced by more generic celebrations, like buddy day and friendship week.

Parents originally were going to meet the board a week earlier, but the meeting was rescheduled.

While the conversation had recently surrounded Valentine's Day, parents said Thursday, they were concerned that all holidays would be wiped out of schools.

At the same time, district officials say it's their responsibility to find ways to celebrate holidays that don't leave any students feeling excluded.

Some parents called for holidays to be a choice, in which families could opt out.

KEZI 9 News caught up with a retired teacher after the meeting, who said it is possible to keep holidays alive, without exclusion. "Not everyone is going to participate in every single thing that we do. So you give them the choice, and you let the parents decide,” Judy Chesser said.

One main theme heard throughout the meeting Thursday night was a lack of communication, which parents say ultimately left them unsure of the rules around holidays.

"I come here today to point out that communication, I feel, has failed. As a result here, there are a lot of parents upset. So, where did the research come from to support making these holiday celebration changes? Where's the survey asking families what they thought,” one parent said.

KEZI spoke to Pat McGillivray with the school district, and he agreed that communication did fall short in this case. He added that the district will continue to reevaluate the best and most inclusive ways to celebrate holidays in classrooms.

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