NEEDHAM, Mass. – A Massachusetts elementary school canceled its student Halloween celebrations this week in the name of inclusion.
In years past, Mitchell Elementary School in Needham celebrated Halloween with class parties and a parade of kids in costumes, but this year administrators put the kibosh on the festivities because some families keep kids home from school on the big day, WCVB reports.
“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 various reasons – some Mitchell families keep their children home from school on that day,” principal Gregory Bayse wrote in a letter to parents Thursday.
Bayse wrote that at least one teacher complained of the “awkwardness planning a class celebration knowing that not all of her students would be able to participate” and school staff were “near-unanimous” in the decision to do away with the tradition.
“I recognize that this decision will be disappointing to some who may feel like Mitchell is changing,” the principal wrote. “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.”
The school will now host a William Mitchell Day in lieu of the Halloween celebration, which will instead focus on “a celebration of autumn” on Nov. 9, WCVB reports.
At least some parents told CBS Boston they’re sad to see the school ditching the fun festivities their children enjoyed so much.
“It’s fun! I can’t see why people want to preclude kids from having fun, and enjoy something that’s more cultural,” parent Jon Coihan said. “There’s no real religious significance to anything about Halloween. It’s just a thing where kids get candy.”
Others were less disappointed.
“I don’t feel it’s really related to overall learning,” parent Matthew Roy told the news site. “It’s important for kids to have fun but it is a choice, per family. We definitely like to celebrate with our kids.”
Folks who commented about the decision online seem to think school officials are spoil sports.
“Great, now having fun is being taken away,” Robert Sullivan posted in the CBS Boston comments.
“This makes me so mad to hear this is happening in Needham,” Katie Lennon posted to Facebook. “Some of my favorite childhood memories were from marching in the Halloween parade at Broadmeadow Elementary School. Now this Mitchell is canceling!?!”
“Everyone is invited to participate – it is not exclusive if people exclude themselves by choice,” Clare McDonaugh added. “Too bad that Halloween is canceled for the sake of a few and the disappointment of many.”