DeKALB – A series of recommendations regarding holiday parties for students at DeKalb School District 428 will see schools continue their seasonal, secular celebrations while promoting traditional holiday symbols in buildings.
The district board approved recommendations by Superintendent Jamie Craven without opposition by a 5-0 vote during Tuesday’s board meeting. Board members Rick Smith and Valerie Pena-Hernandez did not attend.
The district shifted away from holiday parties in the 2016-17 school year, when the student handbook was changed to eliminate them in order to “cultivate educational environments that reflect the core tenets of social justice.” For example, students wore pajamas to school rather than costumes on Halloween.
Craven said he wanted the recommendations to contain all-inclusive events where students and families of all cultures will feel welcome.
“We are such a culturally rich community that this is a great opportunity for us to celebrate that and recognize that through the various celebrations and traditions of our various groups,” Craven said. “So that was really the motivation behind the recommendation.”
Craven’s first recommendation was to continue the seasonal celebrations district schools currently offer because the events are inclusive and students have embraced and enjoyed them. Parent-teacher groups would be free to organize specific holiday evening events if they choose.
The second recommendation is to promote traditional symbols within district buildings, such as Christmas trees, menorahs, Kwanzaa ritual visuals, poinsettias, wreaths and other decorations.
Finally, Craven recommended the recognition of other nonholiday celebrations and the recognition of events such as American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, multicultural family night and others. This could be coupled with the expansion of age-appropriate lessons and activities of other celebrations.